Since my wife’s passing some 14 months ago, I take every opportunity offered to me to speak to cancer patients, caregivers and families considering hospice for their loved one.
The four-year journey my wife and I endured through the medical system was daunting to say the least, and I am happy to share anything I’ve learned.
These words come easily to me; I’m simply telling the truth.
The words that concern me are the words of support. They are intimate; a language only between two people, and when well-spoken they become powerful promises, but there is no single set of words that will speak to all tired or grieving souls.
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to The Fresno Bee
A while back, I received a message from a Facebook friend named Cynthia. She is a jazz singer, and she recently lost her best friend’s mom and then her own mom within a week.
She wanted a copy of my “speech.” She wanted a copy of my “comforting words.” This is what I sent her.
Cynthia, I sincerely wish I had comforting words.
If I had, I would read them to myself every night, but Cynthia, much like jazz, I have no speech and I have no words. I only have an outline; just like the good people you lost only had an outline.
You see, Cynthia, classical music was written by geniuses and intended to be played by musicians. Their score is perfect.
Jazz on the other hand, is written by musicians and intended to be played by geniuses, and this is the music and life I identify with.
The good people who walk planet earth have to improvise. Good people with no special gifts become great people under the intense weight life can put on them. And great people can lift up lives besides their own, for no reward, for no selfish profit other than making another life better, even for a short time.
Cynthia, while your mourning bounces between depression and anger, please allow your soul to be wrapped in acceptance, even for a little while. Accept that you were touched by unselfish, imperfect lives who made the lives around them better, including yours, because that was their music, their genius.
Every day in every step, you carry their example into the world, and you decide whether to spread their genius to others.
Good lives are only forgotten when lesser lives fail to share them.
Touch other souls the same way these great women touched yours. I cannot tell you how to do this, you will have to improvise, but you have been gifted with great performances.
Emulate them; repeat them until they become rote and boring.
Honor these great women with their own music, performed in your own personal way. Sing baby, sing! Sing like when God touches your soul, for He has, and He has requested a song you know well.
Cynthia, I do not have the comforting words.