| Words Unspoken |

To my dear “old” friend,

Should I have gone to visit you? Should I have ignored my concern that you wouldn’t want to see people? Should I have realized you might not make it to Sunday?
To my dear "old" friend,

I was so pleased to hear your voice when you called a few months ago — until I heard why you were calling.

You’d heard that I’d been through the same machalah with which you were now diagnosed, and you wanted to speak to someone who was on the other side of treatment.

I answered your questions and described and explained, trying to give you the information you needed without overburdening you. I was upbeat and positive — as I’d tried to be when I was going through it.

I hadn’t known much when I started out — probably it was Hashem’s chesed that I didn’t know how long the chemotherapy and radiation would last, how my body would react, and for how long I would feel so weak and unable to eat. Everyone is different, and no doctor can predict exactly how any individual will be affected by the treatment.

You told me how much weight you had lost. You were always slim; the fact that you now weighed half your previous weight made me shudder. You told me about the sheitel you’d received from Zichron Menachem and asked where to get the velvet band that could keep the sheitel fixed on your now hairless head, and for the name of my sheitelmacher. That must have been so difficult for you; while you’d always covered all of your hair with a large hat, I know how you’d always loved your long shiny tresses.

Since Hashem had given you the same surgeon and oncologist I had, I could assure you of their kindness and proficiency. You also went through a similar course of treatment: radiation, chemo, surgery, more chemo. It wasn’t fun but we kept in touch by phone and messaging, sharing black jokes that only fellow patients can laugh at. Keeping a sense of humor as well as deep emunah is so important with what we were going through. And of course we said Tehillim and davened for each other.

We saw each other occasionally when you were at home, but I didn’t visit you when you were in the hospital because I remembered how I really didn’t feel like seeing people other than my close family when I was having treatment.

On Friday we sent each other good Shabbos emojis as we did every Erev Shabbos; shortly afterward, your daughter sent me a message asking me to join the 24-hour bedside roster. My turn to be with you was Sunday.

I never made it. You returned your soul to HaKadosh Baruch Hu during Shabbos.

Should I have gone to visit you? Should I have ignored my concern that you wouldn’t want to see people? Should I have realized you might not make it to Sunday?

It would have made me feel better if I had visited you last week. But who says it would have made you feel better?

I don’t have the words to answer these questions. And I know that these are questions a person with emunah shouldn’t even ask.

Now it is your family who needs comforting on this sudden loss. As I set out for the shivah, I ask Hashem to give me the right words. We cannot fathom HaKadosh Baruch Hu’s ways — and that’s not our job.

All we can do is try and give comfort and support to those who need it.

With love,

Your friend who misses you


(Originally featured in Family First, Issue 893)

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