I Thought We Had Forever is a collection of love letters, emails, and journal entries that reveal the passion and pain a family went through when their forever ended on July 28, 2004. It is a love story that began when retired NBA player Steve Patterson took a blank piece of paper and penned a collection of love letters that changed the course of many lives. His wife, Carlette, holds the on to her family as her five-year-old daughter is forced to understand grief, her young adult daughter finds her way back from drug addiction, and her oldest daughter navigates life with Aspergers. Experience their raw emotions as they search for hope, hanging on to their faith and finding a love more powerful than pain.
It wasn’t until something so unexpected, so unplanned by me and so perfectly written entered into my world that I was introduced to a different level of love. Through the experience of being loved, I now know that love is a gift, not to be treasured all alone. From the depth of my soul, I believe that love can only become what it is destined to be if we can are willing to read its tender words, written in unfamiliar places — add our story to its pages and pass it along to someone else.
I hope you’re having a good day. I want
to thank you for making many of my days good and happy ones by your bright smile and cheerful, kind words to me.
There is so much I want to say to you
that cannot or has not been said;; because of time, or convention, or…but I believe that the word, be it spoken or written, is what makes us human. In an effort to speak, a need to speak, to communicate my thoughts, my feelings, my plans, my dreams, my fears, my love…I take paper to pen, to make the abstract real. This is paper how we as humans create…we speak, we communicate, we define our reality and in so doing we invent possibility…
The pain of Steve’s death taught me the value of love and its amazing healing powers.
To My Husband …
Steve was a man of gentle greatness.
Steve lived excellence. May the Lord say to my husband, to Dad, to our friend, to Coach Patterson, "Well Done, Good and Faithful Servant."
With all my love,
When I let go of my fear of touching the pain of grief and instead accepted it, I began to heal. My healing came from feeling the vulnerability of being alone and just relying on love to get me through it. It was not a kind of love I had ever known;; it was a love that started with faith, continued with hope, and grew as I trusted the love I felt from so many grew different people. Along the way, I continued to find some relief from the pain by writing love notes to Steve…it was by taking pen to paper and writing to him that my need to communicate subsided. The power of something so simple — yet the permanence it creates — documented our love forever. Hi Babe, I miss you. I miss that we will never look across the room, catch each other’s eyes, and smile because we have each other. I miss being your wife. I miss being loved by you. I miss that I don’t get to share tomorrow with you. I miss taking your hand and instantly knowing where I am going...
As Sara was withdrawing from me and the family, she was desperate to try to stay sober, so she would snuggle up on her bed in her black bedroom and share her heart with a blank piece of paper. Her journal became the only friend she had. The following is a journal entry… Dear Journal, Only by the grace of God did I get through today. Today I was so close to losing my sobriety. I actually went to get the bottle of vodka out of the kitchen cabinet. Mom, I can’t even stand to be around myself all the time, I don’t really love me, in all truth you don’t really love me either. According to you, you don’t even know me, how can you love somebody you don’t know? I am your blood and daughter I am half of you, you had me, your love is for your daughter, it wouldn’t matter who it was me or any other girl, that matter love is only based on the fact that I happen to be your daughter. Your love is not for me. The Sara you want so desperately to know and figure out you wouldn’t love, and that’s me. Stop trying to fix me…just accept me…you have to accept me before you can love me…Love. Sara
Makena wanted a way to tell her daddy
how she was feeling. As much as we talked about him and shared stories about him, she wanted and needed more. Since writing to Steve had become the way Amanda, Sara, and I were coping, I thought maybe Makena would find peace by writing to him too. I bought her a journal, and she too began to share her her heart with Steve through the amazing healing power of paper and pen.
I need you now Daddy.
I miss you lots and lots.
I wish you would come back Daddy.
My world is not the same without you.
I love you, Daddy! Until we meet again,
Amanda always does things her way and in her own time. I’m proud of her and where her journey has taken her. We are learning to respect each other for who we really are instead of who we wish we were for each other. Our days are not always easy, and we struggle with expectations and disappointments, but we are okay with that now. We get that it’s part of life. This year, twenty-eight years after the world was This blessed with Amanda, she has found her voice. She found peace with her story and through SAARC has been able to find the words and language to share it, in hopes of helping other families navigating through their autism experience. She tells her story and lives her life in a very structured way. It is change and the unexpected that leave her lost. It is wanting emotion unexpected rather than facts that can make her seem discon- nected, but she is probably more connected to her heart and soul than most of us. Hi. I am Amanda. I graduated from Arizona Christian University, formerly Southwestern Bible College, with an Asso- ciates in General Studies degree in May of 2006. I got involved in SAARC (Southwest Autism Research and Resource Center) in early 2008. My mom had me fill out the paperwork. I knew I had autism but didn't want to admit it. Also, I really didn't want to go to SAARC. My mom made me go and I went along to make her happy… I am a SAARCie for life!
We have all come a long way! I am in awe
that it all started with Steve taking pen to paper, and many, many years later, each one of us has found our way through grief and pain to a deeper understanding of what love is, by writing our love notes to Steve.
Today, I am forty-seven years old and know that my forever could end at any moment. I spend my days loving my little women, working at our company, worshiping a God that I deeply love, and opening my heart to what God has planned for me. I know pain. I know hurt. I know grief. I know love. I know God. I know grace. I know friendship. I know my truth. That’s about it. I don’t know what tomorrow holds, but that’s fine with me because I have made peace with today. When I think about where I am today and what I would want to write to Steve, it is simple: I love you and thank you.
My little women are not so little anymore, but they will forever be my little women. Their stories and their journal entries are just a little peak into their souls. I have watched them grow from sad, angry little girls to wise young women. As we all tuck the memories of Steve deep into our hearts, I see a beautiful smile that radiates from each one of us — a smile that says we know we are loved and that we have made it through a very tough time by sticking together, clinging to our faith, and discovering what love is.