There was always a wooden box — more like a treasure chest — in Abby Van Metre’s home in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. The trouble was, she was never allowed to open it. Little did she know that on her 18th birthday, she would finally get to see what was inside the mysterious box.
It was a surprise nearly two decades in the making. For Abby’s first birthday, her mom, Susie, asked family and friends to write her letters. Susie put the letters in the box and locked it up — until now.
“We were thinking that we didn’t really need, or want, a bunch of presents for a 1-year-old who wouldn’t appreciate them or even know what they were,” Susie told Inside Edition.
Not even Susie had opened the letters up to read them. She and her husband just sealed them up and put them away. Little did the mother know how much those letters would mean today.
After 18 years, many of the notes and photos are from family members who have since died. One special letter came from her beloved grandfather who passed away just five years ago, and another one from her uncle John who was killed in a car accident.
It was no shock that after perusing the box, Abby was in tears. It’s the kind of gift you don’t see coming, the kind of gift that has more value than money.
Her late grandfather wrote to the teenager, “I may not be here on Earth with you when you are 18, but I will always be with you spiritually… I love you.”
Abby’s 14-year-old sister will have a similar box to open when she turns 18.
“[It was like] getting to have another conversation with these people I thought I was never going to be able to speak to again,” Abby said.
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