Love

Dear Josh,

Sometimes, I can feel the weight of your stare as I feign sleep in those torturous minutes before I fully wake.  Your grip on my hand has tightened; that’s what probably woke me in the first instance.  I can feel your love.  I can feel you trying desperately to save the image of my face in some special place within your soul that might be immune to the amnesiac effects of time.  I can feel your fear as you unwillingly envisage a life without me – how will you comfort the girls like I can; how will plan the birthday parties and arrange the girls’ schedules; how will you fix all the things that break in our home; how will you do all this while still working your demanding job and maintaining the stellar course of your career?  In turn, in my own mind’s eye, I can see you cleaning out our closets and bathroom drawers to dispose of all my things.  I can see you bringing flowers to my gravesite.  I can see you watching what were once “our” favorite TV shows after the girls have gone to bed, in the dark, alone, the television casting its eerie blue light on your face that seems to be permanently sculpted in sadness.  My heart aches for you but I don’t know how to help you.  Beyond solving all the logistical problems caused by my death, what can I say or do to alleviate the pain, to make losing me easier for you, if that is even at all possible?  Just as I felt compelled to write the girls a letter, I feel a similar compulsion to do the same for you in an attempt to help, for to not do so would be a great failure by me as your wife.

When I hug you now, when I scratch your head, when I lie in the crook of your arm, I feel distinctly the finitude of our time together in this life.  I try so hard to feel and remember everything I can in a single touch, every pore in my body and soul open to you and you alone, as if I can somehow brand your skin, your hair, your very essence into my soul, so I can take you with me when I leave this world.  Does it help you to know this?  Understand, Josh, that until I met you at age 30, it felt like I had been waiting my whole life for you.  Does it help you to know this too?  I’ve always believed in soulmates, in that one person (or maybe two people) who would effortlessly and seamlessly slip into my life and heart as if he had always been there.  At age 10 and 12 and 14 and 16 and 18, I would lie awake at night, wondering where you were at that very moment, the boy and one day man who would be the love of my life, my Mr. Darcy, my tall, dark and handsome.  What can I say?  I’ve always been a hopeless romantic.

The truth is that nothing I say or do will help you as much as time.  Time, that undefinable thing that marks the passing of the seconds, minutes, hours, days, weeks, months, years and decades, that thing that seems to stretch often agonizingly into eternity and yet is also cruelly gone too quickly, that thing that waits and hurries for, and otherwise spares, nothing and no one, that thing that makes us forget, or at the very least blunts, the good and the bad.  Remember how Mia was a day overdue and impatient you were freaking out and demanded that I get induced (which I ignored)?   Now, she’s about to turn 8.  In the interim, our faces have aged, imperceptibly in the day-to-day, but oh so noticeably when we look back at different moments, as recorded by the photos that do not lie about the passage of time.  Time has made you and me forget almost every detail of the night we walked across the Brooklyn Bridge, the night we started to fall in love with one another.  Was it 58 or 60 degrees?  Was it windy as we looked upon the millions of sparkling lights that comprise the Manhattan skyline?  What were you wearing?  Time has robbed our minds of those many beautiful and rich details, and for better or worse, it has also robbed us of that unique euphoria of falling in love.  The intense excitement and anxiety of falling in love are only memories now, impersonal almost, as if it all happened to somebody else.  Sometimes, I wish I could relive those moments, just push a button and for a few glorious minutes travel back in time and be that young ecstatic woman falling in love with the man of her dreams all over again.  But the laws of existence don’t allow that.  By the same token, I don’t remember the innumerable fights we’ve had either, not even the worst ones where we threatened divorce.  I don’t remember what they were about.  I know there were occasions when I was so angry that I wanted to smack you in the face, but I can’t make myself feel that rage now. Time cares not that you are the man of my dreams nor does it care about the most egregious wrongs we have committed against one another; it cares not whether the experiences and emotions were wanted or not, loved or hated; it does not discriminate.  Eventually, time dulls everything.  It removes the intensity of the purest of joys and the hottest of rages and, yes, even the most heartbreaking of sorrows.

I remember when my grandmother died when I was 20, it was the most painful experience of my young life.  I remember crying on the flight back to school.  I remember crying through my midterms.  My family and I (when I was in town) used to go visit her gravesite all the time.  She who had been the center of our family was sorely missed.  But over the years, the visits became less frequent.  Weekly visits became monthly and then only on holidays and then annually and then nothing at all.  I haven’t been to her gravesite in 15 years.  Mine and everyone else’s life continued.  We all grew older.  We got married.  We had our own children.  We went on with the business of living.

One day soon, my whole existence, everything that I am and have been to you, will be memory, growing ever distant with the passing of each day.  One day, you’ll wake up and you won’t remember my face easily anymore.  You won’t remember my smell anymore.  You won’t remember if I liked chocolate ice cream or not.  You won’t remember so many things that you might have once thought you could never forget.  Or maybe, you failed to think of me for one hour or two or three or for a day.  You may even stop visiting me at my gravesite with any regularity.  I want you to know that that is okay, that that is how it should be, that that is what I want it to be.

Time’s amnesiac power is necessary and healthy for it encourages life and living, allowing room for new experiences and new emotions, that come with engaging in the present and being vested in the future, and places our memories where they should be – in the past – to be accessed when we need and want them.  And perhaps most important and relevant to you, time allows for the gaping wounds of the past to close so that we can move forward, so that even the most painful experiences can be remembered with some objectivity, from which we can learn and grow.  I want you to go on living, Josh.  I want you to obsess about sports.  I want you to dine in fine restaurants.  I want you to travel the world.  I want you to raise our children to the best of your ability, which will require you to be so very present and focused on the here and now.

In the ultimate act of living, I even want you to love again.  As hard as that is for me to say, I really do.

We’ve spent much time over the last four years talking about the Slutty Second Wife, a name I gave the woman who would replace me, within days of my diagnosis.  Actually, I have been the one talking about her, while you just rolled your eyes.  And I wouldn’t call it talking; it was more like railing, threatening and ranting.  I do still very much contend that if she so much as hurts my children in any way, if she attempts to steal their inheritance, if she even says even one negative word about me to them, I will come back as a poltergeist and hurt her and depending on the wrong she’s committed, I might even kill her.  There are women who write letters to their replacements on their deathbeds, wishing them well, but I’m sorry – I can’t.  I’m not that generous.

I worry that she will be a gold digger, praying on you in your vulnerable state.  I worry that she will be like Cinderella’s evil stepmother.  I worry that she will seek to destroy all traces of me from your and the girls’ lives.  I fear that she will not prioritize the girls spending time in Los Angeles so that the girls continue their relationship with my family, that she will not care about preserving my legacy.  I fear that she will brainwash you and in the stress and business of life, you will forget what was important to me and all the promises you made me to honor my wishes for the girls.  Will she completely redesign this apartment to erase as much of me as she can from the home that I built for you and the girls?  Or worse yet, will she force you to sell this apartment that I created for you and the girls to enjoy for years to come?  As you know, I have hundreds of worries like these.  You tell me to have faith in you.  You tell me to trust in your ability to make the right decisions.  But, it’s hard for me.

Remember the big argument we had about how much time would have to elapse before you could appropriately start dating, get engaged, get married?  You googled and recited to me statistics, percentages, about how soon after a spouse’s death the surviving spouse engages in a sexual encounter, in a serious relationship, marriage.  There were dramatic differences between widows and widowers, with the widowers doing all of the above much sooner than the widows.  For example,  7% of widows engaged in a sexual encounter within one year of their spouse’s death, whereas 51% of widowers did the same in the same time period.  I was horrified and disgusted.  Men are inherently so weak and incapable of caring for themselves and being alone.  You talked about being engaged a year after I died, married after two at the latest.  I was upset, furious at you.  Are you so weak and pathetic?

Granted you’ve had a long time to prepare for my death.  It’s not as if my death will be a surprise.  But even so, instinctively, I felt like there should be some minimal amount of time to show due respect to me.  But how much is the right amount of time?

I have thought about that question a lot.  And here’s my answer which I’m going to give you in a roundabout manner by way of stories.

As I said before, I’ve always been a hopeless romantic.  I suppose it was a reaction to the complete absence of romance in my childhood (except  of course for what I saw on the screen and read in the romance novels devoured in secret, the ones my father forbade me from reading).  Pragmatism were the guiding principles of love and marriage in my immigrant household.  Have you ever seen my parents kiss, even on the cheek?  Exactly.  Neither have I.  I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve seen them even touch one another with any kind of affection.  I never saw even that between my grandparents, my father’s parents, the ones I grew up around.  Romantic love was simply not a part of my family tradition.

My grandparents’ marriage was arranged when they were still children, despite the fact that they lived in different countries.  My grandmother was from a little village in Hainan, a lush island off the coast of southern China.  My grandfather’s parents had also been born in Hainan but he himself had been born in Vietnam after his parents emigrated there to start what would become a successful business in trading spices and other valuable commodities like elephant tusks and rhino horns.  The families knew and liked each other.  My grandfather’s family was well-off; my grandmother was young, strong and healthy.  At 14, she was plucked from everything and everyone she had ever known and taken to Vietnam on a boat on a multi-week journey by a stranger, her future husband’s maternal grandfather.  There, she had to learn a new language and a new way of life that revolved around commerce and not farming or the land.  There, she resentfully did as her domineering mother-in-law commanded as my great grandmother spent most days gambling.  There, she cared for her boy-husband and his seven younger brothers and sisters, even breastfeeding his youngest brother as she breastfed her own firstborn son.  My grandmother cooked, cleaned, sewed and  even massaged the stubs that were my great grandmother’s feet; Great Grandmother grew up in an era where bound feet no bigger than three inches were a mark of erotic beauty, and so she must have deplored my grandmother’s grotesquely large feet.  My grandmother was effectively a servant in her own home and her boy-husband did nothing to improve her situation.  He did as his mother wished and no doubt saw his wife’s travails as part of a cultural rite of passage in the centuries-old power play between mother- and daughter-in-law.  There was no romantic love between my grandparents, at least not the kind of love I would have wanted.  Theirs was a love born of familiarity, habit, obligation.  My grandfather kept at least one mistress and bore at least one child with her, a girl.  I’m sure my grandmother knew about them because my grandmother knew everything but she never spoke of them.  When my grandmother died after nearly 60 years of marriage, my grandfather grieved for her for a brief period of time and then he went to China to retrieve and marry my grandmother’s sister, a widow, who would take care of him in his later years.   An excellent example of a man who couldn’t cope.

My parents’ story was marginally better.  My mother was beautiful, truly.  In the small town in which I would later be born, my mother’s beauty caught my grandmother’s eye.  Her firstborn son was 24; it was time for him to get married.  She asked around about this pretty girl who walked past the house four times a day, back and forth from the school where she taught first grade.  Her parents were from Hainan too, although she had been born in Vietnam.  The eldest of six children.  Not a rich family but a perfectly respectable family, and her beauty could not be ignored.  So my grandmother dispatched a matchmaker to my mother’s house in Hoi-An to broach the possibility of a union.  My maternal grandparents were ecstatic.  My mother was not.  She had seen my father from a distance, a pale skinned man, handsome enough.  But my mother felt she, at 22 was too young to get married.  She longed for adventure.  She wanted to work at a different job, something other than teaching, like for the Americans at the army store.  But her father wouldn’t allow her to mix with the Americans, for doing so was an invitation to corruption, scandal and ruin.  Her parents pressured her to agree to the marriage.  They said that given my father’s family’s reputation and wealth, that my mother might not get a better offer of marriage, that marrying well was her single greatest duty to her parents and younger siblings.  She agreed and thus began a brief courtship that had to be organized around the War.  My father had been drafted into the War, but my grandmother had bribed enough people to ensure that he would serve as a captain’s driver and not fight in the front lines.  When he wasn’t on duty, he would ride his motorcycle to visit my mother on Saturdays in Hoi-An, a two hour trip that he had to embark on by late morning at the earliest to ensure that the American and South Vietnamese forces had sufficient time to clear the roads of any landmines that might have been planted by the Viet Cong overnight.

They married on the 6th day of the 11th month of the lunar calendar in the Year of the Monkey, also known as Christmas Day 1968.  It was chosen because the people who knew such things said it was an auspicious day, a day that portended good fortune and many blessings.  They married in Danang, with my mother and her family and friends traveling there several days beforehand to stay at a hotel to ensure that the trouble and inconvenience of war would not interrupt the festivities – torn up roads and unexpected skirmishes, that sort of thing.

When I ask my mother if she loved my father when she married him, she says no; she says that she grew to love him over the years.  Theirs was also a love born of familiarity, habit, obligation, a love born of surviving a war, communism and emigration together.  Growing up, I didn’t see the love.  Mostly, I saw lots of fighting, primarily my dad yelling at my mom, to the point where I thought he was verbally abusive.  Maybe, his anger came from the stresses of resettling in a new country where he was nothing when he had once been something.  Things got better through the years, as my father mellowed with age, as my mother grew more confident in this new country and learned to fight back.  Nonetheless, I swore that I never wanted that kind of marriage and certainly not that kind of love.

It didn’t seem like my father wanted love for me at all.  I once asked him in high school, even as my many Asian friends, were sneaking around dating behind their parents’ backs, when I could have a boyfriend.  He said not until I had graduated college, that all that “boyfriend girlfriend nonsense” was a distraction from school and that he wouldn’t permit such indecency.  I remember when we dropped my sister off at Berkeley for her freshman year, as we drove around campus, my father would point to the girls wearing skimpy tank tops and makeup and he’d say with the utmost derision, “Look at those slutty girls.”  I was just entering 8th grade but the message was loud and clear.  My father wanted me to not be one of those slutty girls.  No boyfriends.  I had to focus on academic excellence.  Since I couldn’t drive because of my vision issues, my father always dreamed of becoming my driver one day.  He had it all planned out; I could get him a cell phone and buy him a car and whenever I needed a ride, all I had to do was call him and he would come pick me up and take me wherever I needed to go.  My father had endless patience when it came to driving and driving me in particular.  There was never mention of a husband or children in his dream scenario.  I vaguely wondered if my father would drive me on dates and evenings out with my friends (in which, horror of horrors, I might dress like a slut).

It wasn’t until much later that I realized why there was never mention of a husband or children, why he always stressed education for me (more with me than my siblings), and therefore financial independence.  It all made sense after my mother told me about my grandmother’s failed attempt to have me killed at two months of age, and my parents’ complicity in that attempt.  Back then, in Vietnam, they were simply trying to save me from a life of miserable blindness, unmarriageability and childlessness.  After all, a girl’s worth rested solely on her ability to get married and have children.  While it was true that coming to America had saved some of my vision and that in America there was more help and opportunity for people with disabilities, my parents still saw me as a helpless blind baby, deficient, undesirable; to them I was still probably unmarriageable.  For as long as I could remember there had been condescending statements from them and other relatives, “Seng, you’re not like everyone else;” “You can’t do that because you’re not like other kids;” “Have you forgotten that you’re not like everyone else?”  It was always about what I couldn’t do – I couldn’t go to San Francisco with my cousins (but without my parents) to visit family because no one would take care of me.  I couldn’t go to Chinese school (after English school as my siblings did) because I couldn’t see.  When the Los Angeles Unified School District told my mother that I should be mainstreamed into a regular school, my mother felt that I wasn’t ready, that I needed more help; fortunately, the school district overrode her opinion.  No doubt, those statements were all made out of concern for me (as close minded and ignorant as it was), and yet their insensitivity and complete disregard for my actual abilities were amazingly hurtful.  It’s incredible how the things people say to you when you are so young can stay with you and fester into such angry wounds.

I was very broken by the time I left for college at 17 and I would continue to be broken for many years thereafter.  I was so angry at the universe.  Why me?  Why did I have to be the one to be blind?  Why did I have to be the one to wear ugly thick glasses?  Everywhere I turned, all I could see was what I couldn’t do.  I couldn’t read as fast as my classmates, so I was automatically dumber.  I could never be a great athlete even though I was physically strong.  I was ugly, unpopular.  I was living a life of unfulfilled potential and that was unbearable.  I couldn’t help but also believe that I was defective and deeply flawed.  I hated my parents for bringing me into the world and letting me live.  I even once hysterically screamed at my father and demanded to know why he had allowed that to happen.  Little did I know how close to home I had hit.  Ironically, it was my grandmother who came to calm me.  Most of all, I hated myself.

And so even though my romantic self dreamed of you, I never thought I would actually find you or that, even if you did exist, that you would even want me.  You’ve often asked me about the boyfriends I had before you and I always found ways to evade your questions.  The reason is there were no boyfriends before you.  Sure, there were dalliances and holiday flings but the guys never stuck around for more than a few weeks.  Maybe, they couldn’t handle the Williams and Harvard degrees.  Maybe, my grandmother and parents had been right that no man would want someone as defective as I; it certainly seemed like guys would become exceedingly uncomfortable when they learned of my vision problems.  Maybe, I believed I wasn’t deserving of love and that my grandmother and parents had been right all along.

I didn’t engage in any of the “boyfriend/girlfriend nonsense.”  No, instead, I put my energies into studying, just like my father wanted me to.  Besides, boys didn’t like me.  It was much easier to focus on studying.  But, unwittingly, I also put my energies into fixing what was broken inside me.  I packed my bags and left for Williams College 3,000 miles away from home.  My dad might have believed that there was no real value in educating a girl and letting me go so far away from home and risking my potential ruin, but he couldn’t resist the allure of the #1 ranked Williams College as named in the annual U.S. News & World Report rankings, and since I had earned a full scholarship, he really had no say in what I did.  I studied Chinese in college, the language my mother thought I could never learn because of my vision.  My junior year, I studied in China, traveling around the vast country during every break from school on as little money as possible.  After I graduated college, I studied Spanish in Sevilla for five weeks and backpacked through Europe alone for another five weeks.  The summer after my first year in law school, I did a 10-week internship at an NGO in Bangladesh.  After I sat for the bar exam, I traveled to Chile and Peru and then Thailand and went back to Vietnam for the first time in 23 years with my parents.  After I started working, I had a few more adventures to South Africa and New Zealand.  And right before I met you, I went to Antarctica, after which I could proudly say that I had been to the seven continents by the time I was 30.

Somewhere in between the squawking chickens that invaded my cabin on the barge sailing down the Yangzi River and the door flying off the bus in some dusty Western Chinese province and praying for my life as we winded our way down the roads that hug the base of the Himalayas and camping on the Antarctic ice and sitting in wonder at the mystic beauty of Machu Picchu, I fixed what was broken inside of me.  Nothing could have made me confront my limitations as much as traveling the world did.  Nothing could make me more frustrated or hate myself more than standing on the streets of Rome trying to find a place to sleep for the night while struggling with a map and a magnifying glass.  And nothing could make me proud of and love myself and feel such profound gratitude for what I could do and what vision I did have more than kayaking through the Antarctic waters.  I learned that no one could tell me what I could or couldn’t do, that only I could set my own limitations.  I learned to appreciate everything that I could do, that indeed even a person with normal vision couldn’t have traveled the world alone as I had.  I learned to accept myself as I am, to be patient with and love myself.

And then I met you, when I was ready to meet you, when I felt I was deserving of you.  Being with you and falling in love with you was the easiest thing I’ve ever done.  It felt so right.  You were so smart, my intellectual equal, if not my intellectual superior.  You taught me.  You challenged me (admittedly sometimes in the most annoying ways).  But you know what touched me the most?  The way you would wordlessly reach for my hand when we went down a set of stairs, the way you without prompting would start reading a menu to me, the way you happily act as my driver.  You’ve never doubted my abilities.  My sister told me that she warned you right before you were about to Skype with my parents to ask them for permission to marry me (and she was going to act as the translator), that you had to accept and love me as I am, visual disability and all.  That is exactly what you have always done, loved me and accepted me for who I am with all my imperfections.

It isn’t about figuring out how many months after my death would be appropriate.  It’s about you.  My death will break you.  It will shatter you into a million little pieces.  But I want you and you alone to fix yourself.  I want you to use the opportunity to form an incredible bond with the girls that might not have been possible had I lived.  I want you to figure out how to manage the kids and the apartment and you career on your own, as lonely as that may feel sometimes.  Please don’t be with a woman because you need a wife or mother for your children.  Know that no woman can make this easier.  No woman can fix what is broken inside you.  I want you to be whole again through your own doing.  And only then do I believe you can find a real healthy love, someone who is deserving and worthy of you and the girls.  Who knows?  Maybe, she might even be someone I would have liked.

I love you, sweetheart.  Be well.  Until we meet again…

Julie

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15 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Barbara Gettelman
    Sep 26, 2017 @ 15:18:03

    Oh dear God in Heaven. Please don’t take Julie from us. She has taught me how to live, how to love…how to have hope a future that won’t include her.

    Reply

  2. Sandy
    Sep 26, 2017 @ 16:10:22

    Excellent writing as usual Julie. I think about you daily and hope you are comfortable. ❤️

    Reply

  3. Anne
    Sep 26, 2017 @ 17:38:38

    I am also terminal with Stage IV colon cancer. My mother was diagnosed with myelodysplastic syndrome, she knew her time was limited. She told me she wanted my father to remarry but she could never bear to see him in another woman’s arms. I feel the same way with my husband. For it is in his arms is where I find my solace, my strength and my safe place in the world. After reading your letter, I felt happy you found a joyous and loving union where displays of affection are commonplace. What joy I feel when I am awoken with kisses, and know they are coming thorough out the day. Your writing brings me comfort.

    Reply

  4. katie
    Sep 26, 2017 @ 18:37:00

    wow how powerful, raw, honest, deep and loving. Tears sprung to my eyes reading your last paragraph it was so heartbreaking and true, your words and guidance a gift your dear husband will hopefully embrace and no doubt treasure and never forget. Peace be with you all

    Reply

  5. Jeanine
    Sep 26, 2017 @ 22:43:43

    ♥️

    Reply

  6. Kispangit
    Sep 27, 2017 @ 09:07:04

    My strange thought is that the Almighty is putting you to the test, but will let you live in the end. Trust Him alone.

    Reply

  7. elise
    Sep 27, 2017 @ 13:12:32

    Wow. This is beautiful.

    Reply

  8. Patricia Silbiger
    Sep 27, 2017 @ 16:36:26

    As usual, beautifully put. Peace and love Julie

    Reply

  9. lisa
    Sep 28, 2017 @ 05:00:19

    What a love letter, warts and all! I trust the man you chose will know what is right for him and the girls. I’d like to know how he reacts to your writings as he doesn’t respond to them here or on Facebook as far as I know. Does he feel confronted by this letter or is he feeling similar? In any event your parents’ and grandparents’ stories as well as your own are riveting. What a journey, inspiring and enlightening.

    Reply

  10. The Astonishing FMan
    Oct 02, 2017 @ 21:59:28

    When we finally met, you asked why I rarely posted comments on your blog anymore. I said it was because you had so far passed me by, both in your physical experience and in your writing, that I rarely had anything worth adding.

    And then the other day, when you texted me with more details about your wonderful news (people will wonder what wonderful news!), I was immediately afraid that you could not fail to misunderstand and be disappointed by my clumsy, cryptic reply.

    Fearing misunderstanding and with nothing new to offer in hope to inspire greater beauty, depth, or completeness in your writing, I resort to an old comment I posted to your blog over a year ago, an apologia for all wasted words:

    Words. Words. Words.

    What good are they?

    Useless though they are, I love them anyway, as if they were my own children, or as if they were orphans depending upon my mercy. I can’t turn them away. If they are honest, I can’t turn them away. I don’t care if they are worthless words, as long as they are honest. They can be cruel words, harsh, demanding, not beautiful, hurtful to endure, as long as they are honest.

    And when they are calming, beautiful, consoling, stirring, enlivening, enlightening, philosophizing, this is bliss.

    That not everyone loves words is difficult for me to accept. For a long time, I could not help thinking that people who do not love words are less than fully human, that their psychic development had been stunted. Reason and experience have taught me that’s not true. Some good people don’t love words. Even some people whom I love don’t love words.

    Yet I must look upon non-lovers of words warily, because I think they look back at me warily, or worse, contemptuously, and think me frivolous. I suspect the non-lovers of words think that words are merely tools, implements one uses in the performance of certain tasks, that the delight of words themselves, a delight in words, is foolishness, wasted effort, that unnecessary words are at best an entertainment to provide a respite from the serious business of life. But to me, words are necessary to “the serious business of life,” and not only necessary, but something better and greater than necessary. Wasted words are the things that make the “serious business of life” worthwhile, allowing meaning, sense, and reason to come to light from the apparent chaos that is “the serious business of life.” They are most valuable precisely because they are unnecessary, most valuable precisely because wasted words, wasted music, wasted art, allow us to transcend the tyrannical cruelty of physical animal necessity that otherwise dictates so much of our living and our dying.

    Is it possible that prayer is the highest form of wasted words?

    What could be more wasteful (and glorifying) than a prayer of gratitude that wants nothing more than the opportunity (and strength) to be grateful? “Dear God, please let me be grateful. Dear God, thank you for letting me be grateful.”

    Yes, I look upon the non-lovers of words warily. And they must look upon me warily. I and the non-lover of words could go to war at any moment, because we are in some incurable way foreign to each other, brought up and acculturated in alien lands.

    In this beautiful war of words, wasted words, Julie, I am a common foot soldier.

    You are my captain.

    Reply

  11. Barbara Gettelman
    Oct 03, 2017 @ 00:57:49

    What wonderful news??? Astonishing FMan, I too have missed your blogs….

    Reply

    • The Astonishing FMan
      Oct 03, 2017 @ 16:14:08

      Barbara,

      You are kind!

      How I wish the wonderful news were that Julie were cured, but that is something we can only pray for. Her wonderful news is something else, something very good, something as yet personal that I’m not at liberty to share.

      Reply

      • saffronsmoke
        Oct 04, 2017 @ 21:44:23

        I don’t believe in prayers but I believe in resilience and in Julie’s case the power of her body to surprise her and all of us.. even when all hope is lost.

        I am looking forward to more news and thank you for your beautiful words, they are not wasted.

        Love to all, Julie especially.

  12. Michael
    Oct 14, 2017 @ 15:35:09

    My mom had the same thing 34 years ago, she fought hard but lost, keep fighting and try not to loose

    Reply

  13. MIKE ALLDER
    Oct 17, 2017 @ 18:53:24

    I just came across your blog. I found the link on the on the Colon Talk site. I was dx four years ago this month, I was one of the lucky ones. I got a complete response from pathology. I started reading and just kept reading. I am so sorry for what cancer has done to you and your family.I have just read this letter to your husband. I have tears in my eyes as I head out the door to play ice hockey tonight with my buddies. I know when I get in the dressing room some will now I have been crying. I don’t care. Thank you for sharing your story, I will give my fiance a extra hug tonight when I get home. You have made me appreciate just how lucky some of us who have experienced this terrible disease are.

    Reply

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