Saturday, November 10, 2018

From Afar

Today was a blustery day.  Leaves fell, bitter winds blew, and we got a little snow and graupel (a soft hail).

Leaves and graupel on my lawn
Life has spoken, and this is not the post I intended to write.

Today is the 53rd anniversary of my mother's death.  It is the 80th anniversary of the end of Kristallnacht, the Night of Broken Glass, the night that changed the course of thousands of lives forever.

Today is the day a high school/college friend's California family fled their homes as fires neared.

It is the day I ponder the news I received last night, the news that a cousin's wife has been handed a death sentence by cancer.  That same cousin lost his older brother last year from Parkinson's disease. The call came from another cousin, one who has been the wife's very good friend for years.

My cousin's wife has inoperable brain cancer, manifested in a tumor that has already left her paralyzed on one side.  The doctors say maybe she has a a month.  Maybe she has up to 18 months.  And now, with the clock ticking quickly, decisions must be made.  Should she try to undergo chemo, knowing that it can not cure?

I was asked not to contact the family yet - they are so overwhelmed they don't want to speak to anyone. (They live about three hours from me).  I respect that.

I thought about a simple card just to express that I knew and that I was sorry. I don't like a lot of the "serious illness" type cards out there.  They don't feel right to me.

And, in fact, thinking back 53 years to the aftermath of my mother's death, it makes me think of the things people said to the 12 year old me that helped, and those things that were hurtful, stupid, or worse.  The young teen me made a vow never to hurt people in that way. 

So then I went online to see if I could find a card, and I found a lot of "warrior" type cards.   I thought, does this mean that if my cousin's wife dies, she wasn't enough of a warrior?  

I found a book at the library called "There is No Good Card for This: What to Say and Do When Life is Scary, Awful, and Unfair to People You Love."  It reminds me that sometimes simple is best.

My cousin is a photographer, and a man who loves puns and Monty Python.  So right now, although he does not read my blog, I will send him some virtual flowers.  Our last mums, mixed in with maple leaves.  And then, I will go from there.

Dear cousin, I am sorry.


  1. And, that said it best.
    May the overwhelm attenuate to life is here.

  2. It is so sad. I cried for you and for them. And for my brother who is in the hospital with balance issues. I miss him.
    Sending empathy.
    Amy xx

  3. I am sorry to hear of your cousin's news.

  4. I wonder if we as American is heading toward something like Europe went though 1940's
    Coffee is on

  5. I'm sorry, Alana, so much happening emotionally all at once. I know that you will know when the time is right and will find just the right thing to say.

  6. So, so difficult and sad. I agree with you, simple and from the heart is best.

  7. I gave up on buying cards for serious occasions years ago because they are so unsatisfactory. I buy "messageless" cards from artist friends instand and try to find sincere words to let them know a heart goes out to them. Even that can be hard because sincerity can sound cliche.

    You're grappling with a great deal. I hope you and all your people find peace and healing.

  8. Alana, I am sorry. So much sadness in your life right now. Wish there was something I could do to help.

  9. So sorry to hear that about your cousin's wife. My husband had brain cancer. Now the guy I live with has stage 4 Pancreatic cancer. Cancer sucks. I feel your pain.

  10. That is the best! I am so sorry for your family.

  11. Why does sadness seem to cluster? I'm so saddened by your pain at this time. And I do hope you find a way to give them your love and support. Which I know they have.

  12. That is tough. Perhaps you should find a blank card and write a short note expressing your sympathy and that you're available for whatever they need. It's hard to know what to do, but it was nice that your cousin was available to make the calls and let everyone know what the family wants. That's a huge thing for them, I'm sure.


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