What can you possibly say?

sunset 2

What do you say to a friend who has told you that she has just learned that she has four months to live?

I wrote about my co-worker who was diagnosed with metastatic melanoma shortly after giving birth to her second child.  Her husband just finished his training to be an elementary teacher, but he does not have a job yet.  For now, she is the primary breadwinner for her family of four.

But last week just a few feet away from where I was working, she was on the phone when I heard her sobbing.  This is a woman I have never seen shed a tear.  In fact, I could not imagine her crying.  She is a tough cookie who has made it clear to anyone who knows her that she demands her personal space, and that she doesn’t give (or receive) hugs.  But I didn’t care.  The only thing I knew to do when she came to tell me what she had learned was to hug her, if only briefly.  She tolerated it.  I told her I would clean up her experiment for the day.  She said she didn’t see a need to be coming back to work, and I said she should go home to be with her children.

But now what?  What do I say at this point?  We chat a lot at work, but we don’t have any social life outside of that.  We don’t chat on the phone evenings or weekends.  Also, she is not Christian, as I am.  The usual avenues of giving comfort to another believer are not there.  On top of that, this co-worker has a tendency to keep her problems to herself; she does not ask for help.   I was afraid she would hole up and I would not see her again.  So as she left work I told her I would be sending her text messages, which is a new thing for her, as she only recently purchased a smart phone.

But what would I write?

“How are you doing?”  No.

“How are things going?”  No.

“When will you be coming back to work?”  Probably not.

How about, “Today is the first day of the rest of your life?” …or some other inspirational message.  Definitely not!

What I decided to do was to send her funny/inspirational quotes…quirky things that she would appreciate.  The message is this: I am still here.  I am thinking about you.  Here is something to take your mind off the enormity of your challenge, if only for a short while.  She seems to appreciate it.

What would you say?  What would you do?

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About Cinnwriter

Scientist who enjoys writing fiction, but can hardly find the time for it.
This entry was posted in Daily Post, Six Minute Challenge and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to What can you possibly say?

  1. meritcoba says:

    Yesterday I happened to speak with someone who felt really down because she was stood up. She was a stranger to me, but I felt sorry for her. So what do you say to someone you do not know? I can tell you what I told her, but that is not what matters. What matters is the answer she gave me when I said that I felt sorry because I could not help her better. She said: it helps a lot just because you cared enough to stay to talk to me.
    Think that might be the answer.
    (PS: once the same thing happened to me, a total stranger talked to me when I was down. It helps.)

  2. Cinnwriter says:

    Yes, just being there for someone is a gift. Thanks for your comments.

  3. misifusa says:

    You are doing it right. A kind text without need for response but can be responded to if she chooses. Kindness, patience and warmth go a long way as do truth and continuance. So keep being kind and sending her healing thoughts. Keep her in your prayers and be there.
    Back when I had cancer, we didn’t do texting b/c it wasn’t around yet, but…emails and cards were great. Just a little pick me up to make me laugh.

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