Love Story~Chapter 17: The Letters

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{If you’ve missed the previous chapters of  my love story, start here}

He left. He actually left. I had this hope that he wouldn’t leave, and that he’d beg me to stay. But he didn’t. Just gave me a hug, an old t-shirt, and said goodbye. It made me feel that much better about the farewell letter I wrote. It wasn’t “see ya, lets keep in touch” in my mind, it was goodbye…for good. I felt happy and at peace with my final words to him. I said what I needed to, and felt good about it.

The Letter:

kristen duke love story letter 



There are a lot of things in life I don’t really understand. Sometimes we find out later the reasoning behind everything, sometimes we never do. For all the times I found myself questioning, I’m satisfied with the “someday I’ll understand” part. I’m so grateful for all that you’ve given me. You’ll never know how much of an impact you have made on my life. Our friendship has evolved from many different stages, and I’ve enjoyed watching you and discovering the mystery behind you unfold. You are one of the most amazing people I’ve known and I feel privileged that you’ve shared yourself with me and cred when I’ve shared with you. Matthew, I love you with all of my heart, and you’ve become one of my best friends and I’ll always have the memories of how much fun we had together. I’ve never laughed so much! I’m sure we’ll keep in touch over the summer, but we both know the inevitable reality. I want you to be happy–you deserve it. There’s someone amazing out there waiting for you. My hope is that I have given you even a fraction of what you’ve helped me understand about myself and life.

~Kristen Joy

love story letter kristen duke

It’s true, he taught me to love. In my past relationships, I fell out of interest, and I always had a worry that my feelings for someone wouldn’t stick. He showed me that I had that ability–the capacity–to love for real. I truly felt so grateful for that.

I shoved all of that to the back of my mind, because I needed to focus on getting myself on that jet plane. I said my piece, and I felt at peace. Done.

I was actually sorta glad he didn’t say anything…there was no drama to be had…no decisions to make…I could focus on the excitement of my trip.

There was a meeting the day before departure, with all of the people studying abroad in Jerusalem–about 200. I didn’t personally know anyone going, but my sister in laws former roommate was going, so I was a bit familiar with her, Jenn. It was slightly nerve wracking to go with a bunch of people I didn’t really know. But I’d done that before, nothing new.

I skipped home from my meeting on cloud 9 with excitement for the new chapter in my life about to unfold. I hadn’t planned to check my email before leaving, but I passed a campus computer kiosk on my walk home, and thought I’d do a quick check. I wondered if Matthew would send me a message, but I also wasn’t sure I wanted to hear what he had to say. He had, after all, likely read my letter by now.

Sure enough, there was his name flashing before me on the computer screen. A new email from him. I took a deep breath, and opened it up.

The email:


You said in the last message that you wouldn’t check your email until after your trip, but I decided to write you anyway, it makes me feel better. I’m  hoping you’ll check just once more. I’m glad you are so excited about your trip to the Holy Land. It should be one of the most exciting trips of your life. It’s hard to think that in a few days you’ll be halfway around the world, so far away. It’s true what they say about not knowing how good you have it until you don’t have it anymore. I really have learned not to take anything for granted lately. That’s one reason that I’m writing you. What they say about how absence makes the heart grow fonder is also true, whoever they are.  I’ve always considered you some very important to me, one of my very best friends. There were so many things I wanted to say to you before I left, but I didn’t because of fear or something. I miss you a lot. I know it’s only been a day, but the thought of you being gone for a couple of months makes me hurt inside. On my drive home yesterday, I had some time to think and realized just how much I have come to love and rely on you. I can’t get you out of my thoughts. Things like smelling the flannel shirt that you wore makes me think of you. I don’t know why I can’t say these things in person, but this is how I’ve felt. I really miss you….better send this before I go back and edit…


What in the world?!? As tears streamed down my face, I felt confused…so very confused. I was not expecting that…at. all.

Join The Discussion



  1. What in the world?!? I’m glad he didn’t go back and edit. 🙂

    The other day the hubbie and I were talking — he was helping me sort through a bundle of emotions regarding the closing chapter of pregnancy, and giving his 5 cents. Afterwards he thanked me for teaching him how to express himself… he used to not know how to actually say things out loud, it would just be a mess inside. I have no idea what I did to help, but I’m grateful that it happened, and the “what in the world?!?” moments became fewer and fewer. 🙂

    Again, you have me hanging on every word.

    • Kristen Duke says:

      Yes, I do believe I’ve helped my hubby a little with that:) Yes, a bundle of emotions at the near of pregnancy, hang in there, girl!!

  2. I was so excited to see the next chapter come through, but you leave me again wanting to hear more. It’s not like we don’t know how it ends (because I am pretty sure you get married and have amazing children 😉 ), but it’s been a beautiful journey so far to read. I think you leave us wanting more, just like “Matthew” did by sending that email 🙂

    Can’t wait for Chapter 18!

  3. You stopped again. . . AHHHHH. What a great relationship foundation you have.

    • Kristen Duke says:

      OH, it’s a solid foundation, that’s for sure! We KNEW we were supposed to be together–eventually;)

  4. Jacqueline says:

    I hope you find the time to share the next chapter soon!!

  5. ooh! the drama escalates!

  6. Wow I am soo loving your story it’s like a movie please continue all the way till the awaited end. Which I just can’t wait to read! I’m actually amazed of the fact that we are so similar. I’m starting College right now in June 3 (in digital fashion design) and right now I feel pretty scared. I literally have the same questions and thoughts you had. It’s sooo amazing to know I ain’t the only one out there. So yeah just wanted to thank you for posting your story out there (which I’m pretty sure it’s mot easy). And also wanted to say that I know believe if you did it I can do it! So thank you so much again for posting your story. Hope I can someday share mine with you.

    • Kristen Duke says:

      Andrea, what a fun adventure you are beginning !Thanks for leaving a comment, and know that the bumps eventually turn into smooth sailing! But bumps will come again, too!

  7. Jenny Whiting says:

    Thanks for the stories! I’m so impressed that you have such a good memory of everything, and that you even have all the letters and emails. I don’t think I have any of the emails from my old byu account (I think we were there at the same time). That’s awesome. So, I have to admit, I really hope that you still went on the study abroad. 🙂 I was able to go abroad several times before getting married to teach English, a mission, and to study. They were some of the best and most valuable experiences of my life. When my husband and I were engaged, I even spent 7 weeks in Russia teaching because I had already committed to it before our relationship turned serious. Yes, it was hard, but looking back I am so glad I did it because I haven’t been able to travel like that since then! So I’ll look forward to your next story! 🙂 I know in the end it all turned out beautifully and you have an amazing family. Thanks for all you share with us; it’s quite brave of you!

    • Kristen Duke says:

      Jenny, I wrote in my journal every day and printed off emails from that account way back then. I’m an avid history keeper!! I do need some extra courage to post some of the details, but I’ve already started…can’t stop now!!

  8. This is so fun to read. So much backstory that I never knew. :o)

  9. ok What in the world!!!!!!!!!!!!!!I just clicked to your page from Anna White (first time there too! amazing) and I see this post and I’m all — What is this? Why is she posting this? Oh, this is good. I’m so glad she’s sharing this- I mean she knows she’s sharing this. – oh wait, she is married. Capturing Joy is the title so, this is not the end — unless he left the marriage. . .ok hanging in there. I’

  10. Eek! You better not leave us hanging for too long. 🙂 Loving y’all’s story.

  11. Awww!! We weren´t expecting that either! And now we have to wait for the next chapter… groan…


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