You've heard this all before on this blog, but I've been typing up some essays from Nancy Peacock's writing class at Meredith. This was written from a prompt, "I believe in the power of words...." How would you finish that sentence?
I believe in the power of words to heal. When I write notes to people, I often sit and meditate for a few minutes about their illness, their dying loved one, their love for each other, the day they were born. I put my pen to the paper as soon as I’m finished with the meditation; I want my words to matter.
I choose a card carefully. Sometimes it is one of my photo cards. A photograph of a place we’ve been together, one of the sky or water for a somber message. A photograph of a billboard with a funny saying for someone who needs cheering up. A shop window with funky wigs for a friend undergoing chemo for cancer.
I might buy a card at the book store or a craft fair—one that is a collage with a meaningful quote. Sometimes I go to my workroom and make a card using beautiful paper or stamps my daughter has carved.
I know the power of words to heal because of the ones that come to my own mailbox when I need them. Words from friends who let me know that they are thinking of me, that they remember my birthday or my anniversary. I save the good ones and the ones from my children with their love scribbled across the page of a card they chose just for me.
Yesterday I sent a card to a friend whose sister died last year. Her sister’s birthday is the same day as my father’s. “I will take a few minutes on Friday to think of you and your family. I hope you will be remembering the happy times with your sister, and that those memories will comfort you.”
I wonder as I write this if anyone made a note when they read his obituary that Friday would be my father’s ninetieth birthday. Are they right now thinking of me as they sort through their card collection or bend the corners of those at the store, looking for one that says just the right words, words that will bring a smile to my face or a tear to my eye?
Will a card come tomorrow as I remember his last birthday, how I went to the grocery store and ordered a cake—white with red roses—and had the woman write, “Happy 88th Birthday, Dad;” how my dad was in a coma from which he never woke up; how the five of us, his children, waited, watching his labored breath, tense, irritable, unbearably sad, trying to figure out if staying or leaving or whispering the right words in his ear would give him permission to die; how two days later he breathed a ragged breath and died with a tiny smile on his face?
How comforting it would be to be remembered with words thoughtfully penned on a carefully chosen card.