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Christmas Cards

And so the weeks pass and grief remains steadfast in our lives. We are in the midst of the Christmas season now and mostly as a family we are getting by.    Another tradition we have when bereaved is that we don’t send Christmas cards the first Christmas after a loved one dies.   The only exemption I am making are the people who usually write letters at Christmas.    All of us probably have a few people in our lives that the only remaining contact we have is writing a letter with an update on our lives at Christmas. For me, they are usually people that I would have been very fond of over the course of my life but for some reason our lives have moved in different directions. On the rare occasions that we do meet it is as if time melts away and we are back to how our relationship was in the past.

This post is going to focus on one such person who is no longer with us. She is a person who touched me in a special way when I was first diagnosed with cancer. To look at us we had very little in common, she was thirty years older than me, retired and single. I was thirty one years old and newly married. The only common denominator was that we were both diagnosed with breast cancer, she a couple of years ahead of me. She was so full of positivity and effervescence, I was immediately drawn to her. Somehow we connected and kept in contact, she helping me through the initial first months after being diagnosed.
The most wonderful thing happened to her soon after we met. She met an old boyfriend that she had been courting when she was very young and they started seeing each other again. They got married and soon after she moved to England where we kept in regular contact and in later years at Christmas. They had a wonderful decade together, travelling a lot and enjoying each other’s company.  Unfortunately she fell ill again and died a few years later. I wrote this letter a couple of years after she passed, at Christmas time. After my mother died, I remembered that I had wrote this. My mother’s death was so sudden whereas P knew that she was terminal.

Dear P
I truly hope you are keeping well and less anxious. Have you settled into your new life? Is it all that you and I have hoped for? Is it worth the angst and anguish that sometimes precedes the transition from one life to another?
I miss your cards. This year more than any for some strange reason. Perhaps because I had only recently changed jobs last year but certainly this year I feel it even more keenly than ever. How is B? Has he adjusted to all the change? Do you visit him sometimes? Do you visit me? I had a dream about you the other night. I couldn’t sleep for a long while after. I knew then that I must write about you.
I went to a funeral today and I passed by your old home. The light was on. I didn’t see any Christmas lights but I suppose that doesn’t mean anything. I thought of the day I went to visit you and the first and only time I met B. The excitement was palpable that day at the prospect of a new life with your new husband. You truly inspired me that day. Life can bring so much joy and hope.
I wrote to B last Christmas. He actually wrote back to me in the New Year. I think he was very grateful to have received a letter from us. All I hoped for was that he would survive Christmas and knew that we were still thinking of him.
I have decided not to write any cards this year. I still am not sure why, but it may have something to do with you. Did I say I miss your cards? Your card signified Christmas for me for eleven or twelve years (I can’t quite remember). It is only now that I realise the significance. Each year was another milestone for us and the cards acknowledged that achievement . I’m not sure that I gave you any succour in recent years especially when you were feeling anxious and afraid of what the next year would bring. I hope I did.
I regretted not having the time to talk to you on the telephone your last Christmas. I was busy with the children preparing them for bed. I think the baby may have been crying at the time. It was only when the telephone call was finished did I realise its significance. That is why I rang you in March. A sensation overcame me. I’m glad now that I did. We didn’t say too much to each other but at least I felt you knew.
I only heard of your passing by accident, a month or so after it had occurred. That upset me more than anything. I only know one dimension of you, but I suppose that’s ok too.
I have asked you a lot of questions that I know will never be answered. Nonetheless, God Speed, dear P. May you be basking in a warm peaceful glow for eternity and all anxious thoughts put aside.
Your bosom buddy
Catherine

(We called ourselves the Bosom Buddies!)

5 thoughts on “Christmas Cards”

  1. What an incredibly powerful letter. A privilege to read. Thank you for sharing this letter. Your friendship comes across so naturally yet with all the profound undercurrents that living with cancer brings. I am glad that you both had that. And how wonderful that she found B too.
    It is definitely an emotionally loaded time of year and you are so right about each year being marked by the card, significance only truly felt by sender and receiver.
    Wishing you all good wishes for this, another, Christmas.

    Like

  2. Catherine,
    What a beautiful friendship you had with P. You make a good point about how your friendship might seem unlikely, given your age difference, but true connections transcend the limits of our age. Sharing the experience of cancer gives us a deeper understanding of others. It was so nice that your yearly Christmas letters marked another year of survival and a festive, meaningful time of year. Thanks for this lovely post. Connie

    Liked by 1 person

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