I had my heart broken in one phone call last week. As soon as I heard my mom’s voice I knew something was wrong. She was on the verge of tears – a sound to which I am not accustomed to coming from her. “Suzy died this morning.” My mom’s older and last living sister had died in her sleep. I faltered and felt the pressure on my heart as the tears came out in a rush.
My aunt had been ill for a couple of months. Just a few days prior she and her husband made the decision to have home hospice care. We anticipated it would be a couple more months. We anticipated wrong.
I leaned into my kitchen counter as I ended the phone call with my mom. There right in front of me was a picture my youngest daughter, Sophia, had drawn for Suzy several weeks prior.
The last time we saw Suzy was last September. Unbeknownst to Suzy, she had a conversation with Sophia during that visit that shifted how Sophia thought about herself. Suzy had told Sophia she was smart. She told her she was capable and would probably work in the medical field with her smarts and big heart.
Sophia knew Suzy did not know or care about her prior academic record that may suggest otherwise. Sophia in the immediate past year had struggled in school – not because she isn’t smart, but because she has a deep love for being social.
This past year, Sophia has been as academically strong as she has ever been. She proudly showed me the B’s on her report card. She was actually studying for tests. She showed more commitment and consistency than she has showed in a long time.
Directly or indirectly, I am positive the conversation between Sophia and her great aunt Suzy had an impact. I have been meaning to send Suzy the picture Sophia colored for her. I intended to include a letter of thank you and acknowledgment. It had been lingering on my to-do list for weeks. Now it has been erased from that list and become a deep regret.
I share this sorrow as a reminder to send letters, give the acknowledgments, and tell the people you love, how much. If you are reading this in the context of divorce, remember the people who are helping you through it and say the words of gratitude that are imprinted on your heart. Say them. Say them soon. Say them while you can.