Posted by: Ingrid | October 25, 2007

What I wish I could have written in the card you’ll never see

Dear T-

When I was finally handed the card I’d been avoiding all week I did not know that you would never read it. I did not imagine that death was that close or news that you had been given only 24 hours to live would follow so quickly.

You will never see it now, and quite frankly, you didn’t miss much. It was ugly and said something trite about how we just don’t understand why God does what he does but we hope that he’ll get you through it. I fought back the urge to X out the message and write something about how sorry I was that we live in a fallen world with ugly things like cancer and pain and mothers dying when their children are still young.

I let the card sit in my office before scratching out only a sentence. I didn’t want to sign it, because it brought my mom’s death too close, all of the cards, all of the people half remembered who you try to write down so you can thank them later. The cards thrown angrily into the trash at yet another calmly inane remark.  The grief is close enough that for me to open up to give to another family or to have any presentable words to say in a departmental card feels almost impossible.  So here are my words in their unpresentable form.  You may not need them now, but I do.

I’m so sorry. My heart grieves for you, for your husband, for your children all so young. I hardly know you, but what I knew of you I liked. You showed so much strength for the pain that you must have been experiencing. You seemed more gracious than I think I would have been. I could tell your friends in your department loved you and cared deeply.

I hope that your last days have been full of family and friends and togetherness. I cannot imagine what it would be like to live waiting, knowing your death was approaching in days and weeks. Mine could be as well, but the knowledge of it seems like it would be unbearable, oppressive. That’s how it looks from the outside, at least, I do not know anything about that particular type of dying. How do you live when you have less than 24 hours?

You have had my prayers in living. Your family has my tears at your dying. I pray that they will walk through the grief and find healing on the journey.

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