An open letter to Michael W. Smith

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I know these open letters are very trendy right now, but I feel very compelled to jump on this bandwagon.

Dear Mr. Smith,

You don’t know me.  I am a long time fan of your music – of all genres.  I am of the generation that grew up singing Place In This World and Friends. I can mark my childhood by your albums.

On March 6, I surprised my husband with tickets to your concert at Mill Town Music Hall in Bremen, GA.  We were celebrating our 8th wedding anniversary.

However, our paths have crossed once before.  In July 1999, we met in Stone Mountain, GA.  You were performing at AtlantaFest that year.  Money was not plentiful with my family, so vacations were a luxury that we did not splurge on.  Our summer vacations became AtlantaFest.  My mother, brother, sister and myself would purchase 4 day passes and feast on concerts all week.  My mother would begin “mentally preparing” weeks in advance – playing the music of all the artists.  She would study the schedules, planning when we would eat, what concerts we would attend and when we should be at which stage.  She did the study of someone planning a week at Disney World.

However, 1999 was different.  Painfully different.  Mom was fighting cancer for the third time.  This time felt different.  My dad decided to do something special.  He wrote to the organizers of AtlantaFest asking if they could arrange for Mom to meet one of the performers she adored.  We received a letter describing arrangements to meet an artist – Michael W. Smith.

Mom was walking on air!  She was counting the days!  She could not wait to shake your hand.  She played your music and planned her questions for you.

Things didn’t work out as planned. The week of AtlantaFest found Mom in the hospital.  She was devastated.  But she insisted that we attend without her.

So you met us instead.  I was 21, my brother was 16 and my sister was 14.  You were gracious and friendly.  I was astonished by a celebrity who climbed off a tour bus and immediately wrapped us in a hug.  You proudly introduced us to your son who was touring with you that summer.  You prayed for my mother with us and autographed a poster for us to take to Mom.  I remember delivering that poster.  She cried and insisted that it be hung on her hospital wall.  She told everyone who would listen about how you had met her children and given that to her.  I still have that poster.

Mom’s cancer was much worse this time.  She passed away on August 8, 1999.  Receiving your poster was the last big event of her life here on Earth.

Thank you, Mr. Smith.  Thank you for following your calling and your Creator.  Thank you for caring about a stranger in Georgia and her three children who desperately needed a bright spot in their lives at that time.  Thank you.

Sincerely,

A. Leavitt

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