Tuesday, February 22, 2011

The Love Letter...

My friend Gigi at The Magpie's Fancy started a series called Freewrite Fridays.  She has been a writer and a teacher for many years.  On Fridays she gives writing exercises (should you choose to participate)along with tips and bit of inspiration.  I thought I would give it a try.  This assignment was to handwrite a letter to someone who will never read it.  As today is the 3rd anniversary of my good friend, Judy's death, I thought I would write a love letter to her.  I am loving Gigi's series and although this is only my second one that I have participated in, it really has made me slow down and take time to just sit with my thoughts.  Thank you, Gigi for being such a wonderful inspiration!

Dear Judy - Today is the 3rd anniversary of  your death.  I'll never forget the moment, I saw your name come up on my cell phone. I knew it was going to be Harvey telling me he had just lost his beloved wife.  I was driving at the time, so I pulled over to take the call.  After Harvey gave me the awful news, I just sat in my car and cried, I felt so lost already without you.  As much as I hoped and prayed I would never get that call; my heart told me to prepare for it. How does one prepare for the loss of such an important person in their life? To imagine that life will go on without them in it?

You were everything wrapped into one person - a second mother, a friend, a psychiatrist, a teacher, a co-worker who made me want to get up in the morning to get to the office just so I could argue with you all day! We bantered all day long and we would laugh hysterically when we knew we had horrified the others into thinking we hated each other. It was quite the opposite - we loved each other and clung to each other. You would listen to me ramble on for hours about whatever was on my mind and you would never say a word - you would just listen and let me figure things out for myself and then you would give me your thoughts and I thank you for that!

Shopping with you was quite the experience.  It was like a sport to you and the object was to pay as little as possible, but your true hobby was returning the items, you found so much joy in that..and it always made me laugh!!  I did learn to always ask if there is any extra discounts, as you would always say, "It never hurts to ask".  You listened for hours on end when I talked about Sandi's cancer and the daily blow by blow of what she was going thru and how afraid I was of losing her. (which happened eleven months after your death). 

You were one of the first people I called when I heard my dad had been murdered, and you will never know how much it meant to me having you fly up to his memorial for just for a few hours - just to be by my side. Thank you for walking thru a lot of tough and happy times with me and just being my friend. I never for one moment thought I would lose you anytime soon until one day out of the blue when you called me to ask me out to lunch.

You asked me where Sandi had bought her wigs as you had Hodgkins Disease and you were starting chemotherapy in a few weeks and would most likely need a wig.  If that was not shock enough to me, you then told me that you had been diagnosed five years earlier and the only people that knew were Harvey, your son Paul (as you wanted Harvey to have someone to talk to about it) and your lifelong friend, Barb back in New York. After screaming at you for a moment or so, as I was so angry you had not done anything to treat it until now - you simply said to me " I wanted quality of life not quantity, and I know once I start chemotherapy my life will never be the same again". (You know what, you were right - you had nothing but complications for the next six months and spent the rest of your life in the hospital, but you agreed that you had waited too long for treatment and your health was already extremely compromised).

That lunch was the last time I saw you, as you made me promise not to come to the hospital - you promised me that we would go out to lunch once your chemotherapy was done. We never got that chance. I so desperately wanted to go to the hospital and it broke my heart that I didn't, but out of respect for you, I was honoring  your wishes. Two weeks before you started chemo - you, Harvey, your kids and grandkids were going on a cruise for your 50th wedding anniversary - you knew this might be your last vacation with them, and you did not want them to know you were ill, as you wanted everyone to have a good time. And you did, you had a wonderful time and gave everyone some fabulous memories to hold onto.

 Two days after you started chemo, I was flying to Chicago with Sandi, Sally and the girls for my 50th birthday. When we arrived at the hotel, I received a call from Harvey telling me that you had insisted he call me and sing Happy Birthday to me (which he did) - that made my day, my week - it made me smile so much, knowing all you were going thru and you had thought of me. Thank you, friend. You meant the world to me and still do. I have your photo in my office and every once in a while I smile at all the silly things we did at work, we sure got away with alot there! haha.

Looking back at both you and Sandi and how differently you handled your cancers - I am somewhat torn about what I would do, should this ever happen to me; you wanted quality and Sandi wanted quantity. You both fought your battles with all your heart, and I have so much love and respect for the both of you. The two of you made my world so wonderful and I lost both of you within a year of each other. Time has gone on and it does get less painful, but my memories of you and of Sandi will never fade. You two were such colorful characters to be around and there will never be anyone like you two in my life again. I am so grateful to you both for your love and friendship to not only me, but to Stephanie too!

Keeping you in my heart always,

(photo via here)


christy said...

I'm sitting here with mason on my chest watching him sleep & crying for the losses in life that we inevitably endure. What a beautiful letter. Life is so precious - we should be reminded to tell our loved ones how much they mean to us while they're here. Baby mason can't wait to meet you. Love & miss both you and Stephanie...xoxo

Gigi said...

Oh my goodness, Cathi, this is one of the most beautiful posts I've read in a long time. I love that it is a love letter to your dear friend Judy, but that it expands to include her husband, your friend Sandi, and others close to you. It just demonstrates your capacity for love and your strength as a friend.

Thank you so much for participating in Freewrite Fridays. This letter is exactly the reason I started the series.

Much love,

karen-holmes said...

sigh... and sigh some more... and all that comes to me while reading your shared letter is that love is eternal... it has no fences. wishing you light and love, xok.

A Tale of Two Cities said...

What a poignant tribute to a wonderful friend--she must have been one special lady. I can see how writing the love letter would be a great exercise in so many ways. Be thankful you had her in your life for the time that she was there.

Christina said...

so filled with love. a tender and love filled post.

Cathi said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Cathi said...

CHRISTY - I can't wait to meet Mason and give him lots of kisses and see you and the rest of the family...I love you lots!!

GIGI - Thank you for being so inspiring, you are the best!!

KAREN - Love is indeed eternal and I carry my loved ones that are no longer here with me in my heart and in my memories.

DEBI - I feel so blessed to have had Judy and Sandi in my life for as long as I did!

CHRISTINA - You inspire me so!

Thank you all for your kinds words, I truly appreciate each and every one of you! xxoo :)

Adrienne said...


I have been meaning to leave you a comment about this post since Monday night when I read it. I was lying in bed at midnight waiting for my husband to come home from the hospital in San Francisco where he was with his family - my sister-in-law was, still is, very ill and he was there to comfort his brother. I was in tears reading your letter. It really touched me in so many ways.
As I read more and more of your blog, I'm understanding how much tragedy you have endured in your life. Yet you continue to be such a giving and loving and positive person. I wish everyone could be more like you, Cathi.

xo + big hug


vicki archer said...

Beautifully heartfelt Cathi....xv


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