A teen in Iowa was moved to tears when she received a time capsule for her 18th birthday containing “Letters From Heaven” from late loved ones written decades ago.
Susie Van Metre of Cedar Rapids said when her daughter, Abby, was about to celebrate her first birthday in September 1999, she and her husband, Kent, were brainstorming gift ideas and got inspiration from people gearing up for the new millennium and making time capsules, Van Metre told ABC News.
Van Metre’s grandparents were still alive at the time, so she thought it would be a “neat gift” to store away letters written to Abby by people who love her.
Abby’s parents then gathered 30 letters, written by grandparents, great-grandparents, aunts, uncles, friends and themselves, and enclosed them in a box for almost 18 years.
“Abby had no idea that this existed,” Van Metre said.
On Sept. 22, the Van Metres recorded the moment Abby opened the well thought-out gift, and the teen could be seen crying as she read letters from deceased family members, including one from her grandfather, who died five years ago, and her late Uncle John.
The letter from her grandfather read, “I might not be with you here when you are 18, but I’ll always be with you spiritually, just not physically.”
It was an “emotional experience” for Van Metre and her husband as well, she said, because they never read any of the handwritten letters.
“We just sealed them up and put them in there,” she said. “When you see their handwriting, it kind of takes your breath away.”
The time capsule also contained mementos from the year Abby turned 1, including newspaper clippings, receipts with grocery prices, and a DVD to showcase the “new technology” of the times.
“There was a letter printed from an email because it was also a relatively new form of communication, which she thought was hilarious,” Van Metre said.
Abby described the gift from her parents as “incredibly thoughtful.”
“I’m getting to have another conversation with these people that I thought I was never going to be able to speak to again,” she said. “It was just beautiful.”
Abby will be leaving for college next year, but her 14-year-old sister Holland has a similar time capsule gift waiting for her when she turns 18, Van Metre said.