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On Death and Dying and Doing it all Wrong

On my desk are sympathy cards. They’re blank because I can’t fill them in. I cannot bring myself to write:

Dear Emily,

I’m so sorry that you lost your mother in what should have been her best and strongest years. I’m so sad for you that you won’t have your mother there when you have children and that your father will grow old with someone else, or even alone. I cannot begin to tell you how much I love you and how blessed I am Because you are part of my life…

I couldn’t write any of that because I’m uncomfortable with death at the wrong age. Emily’s mother wouldn’t have qualified for Social Security. I am also terrified that what I will say is wrong, and I’m aware that my silence is deafening. The cards must be sent. Someone more actualized than I might say that there is no wrong age to die. I get it, I hear you. It’s my flaw.

In January of 2007 I discovered blogging because I was angry. Not a
little bit angry but seeing red, rage filled angry. Writing about my
friend’s slow and ugly death kept me from screaming in the streets. I don’t know that my marriage would have been in tact without that horrible little blog. We have girlfriends because women really do need to talk things through in a different way than our husbands.

When you’re a mother you don’t always have time for your girlfriends if your girlfriends aren’t mothers also. When you’re in crisis it’s easy to feel terribly alone. When you’re busy from dawn to dusk and your husband is working a million hours a day and the kids won’t stop calling you Mommy, what do you do? When do you breathe? Who will take care of me?

My best childhood friend lost her sister when we were teens and I really wasn’t there for her. I couldn’t be, I wasn’t adult enough. On that day she made the leap to adulthood, she had no parachute. She didn’t have me, that’s for sure. I could have tried, awkwardly. I should have tried to be there more but I didn’t know where to begin. My own mother is furiously uncomfortable with illness, never mind finality, my father is an uber observant Jew so you just say a lot of Hebrew and get on with it.

I really need this to stop. For my childrens’ sakes. Now.

In my adulthood, with no excuses and more than enough life experience to get the job done I find myself stuck. Unable to complete this post. Unable to find the words that won’t be wrong. Because each and every word feels horribly, terribly and woefully wrong. I’m going to send the condolence card to the family that I love, I’ll trust that though the words may stumble and bumble, the family will know how very much I love them.

1 thought on “On Death and Dying and Doing it all Wrong”

  1. Jessica.. You are right when you say silence is deafening. When you say nothing it is so much louder than saying even three words. A simple.. ‘I am sorry’ is worth a million dollars. I’ve been through it.. I know. I still have a list of people who said nothing. I try so hard not to judge and not to remember.. but somehow… I KNOW. I hate that I feel that way… but I do. If only these people had at least acknowledged the death, I would have felt better. My father was only 63 when he died tragically in his sleep of a heart attack. Some of my closest friends did not even call me. I suppose they didn’t know what to say. They figured it would “blow over”. They are not excused. Not to this day. Sorry. I’m a bitch like that.

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