One of the most beautiful books I have ever read is An Hour to Live, an Hour to Love, by Richard Carlson and Kristine Carlson.
It is a short, poignant look at life and love, a reaffirming of the beauty and brevity of life and the importance of love, true, pure and lasting.
Even the context of the book is mesmerizing, with its truth leaving a longing to live as long as we can with those we love.
Many of you know Richard Carlson as the author of the Don't Sweat the Small Stuff series. You may not know that Richard Carlson died in his sleep suddenly from an embolism while on a business trip, leaving behind his wife Kristine and his daughters, Kenna and Jazzy. And this book is an affirmation that the Small Stuff series writings were not simply words on paper to Carlson, but a way of life.
On the Carlsons' 18th wedding anniversary, while on their private bench overlooking the Pacific Ocean at sunset, Richard presented Kristine a love letter which became the heart of this book, published by Kristine after his premature death.
In some of the most beautiful love verbiage I have read, Carlson titled the love letter to her:
An Hour to Live:
Who would you call, and why are you waiting?
To Kris, the love of my life,
on our eighteenth wedding anniversary.
Kristine includes this love letter as the centerpiece of the book, and he starts the letter with, "If you had an hour to live and could make just one phone call, who would it be to, what would you say . . .and why are you waiting?
He goes on to exquisitely answer his questions-- that he would call her, of course, then espousing all that he would say to her, and in doing so, doesn't wait.
It is the letter we all hope to write, but don't, and the letter we all hope to get, but probably won't.
The book then includes Kristine's response, the one that she wrote after Richard's death, the one that she didn't write and that he didn't see. But still, he letter is an unbelievable testament to the special love and life that they shared, cut short by a sudden and unexpected loss.
The book closes with a copy of Carlson's favorite poem "Tomorrow Never Comes," an ironic reinforcement of the shortness of the breaths we take.
This love story of 60 pages not only reinforces the beauty of true, deep, selfless love, but the brevity of life.
And so, if you had only an hour to live, whom would you call, what would you say, and why are you waiting?