During my planning period today, while I and the other teachers in my grade level were attempting to set the class lists for next year, a disturbance occurred and one of the teachers rushed out. As we came to know, the curriculum coordinator in our building got the news that her sister, who has been fighting cancer, was being moved to hospice. The teacher who rushed out is good friends with her, and of course went to support her in the immediate aftermath of this news. As far as I know, she left immediately to go see her sister (who lives many states away).
Hospice. Which means that her sister’s fight is over. There is nothing more that can be done, other than to try to make her comfortable. And the family will have to somehow fathom a way to say goodbye with whatever time she has left.
In all honesty, the curriculum coordinator and I aren’t close. We work together when need be but we’re strangers, for the most part. When the baby died, she was one of those beauty-pageant-smile-but-pretend-it-didn’t-happen people who made me want to scream. But she is a fellow human being, and I feel such grief for her, although I know that I can’t truly understand her pain. I have never lost a sibling.
She didn’t reach out to me when the baby died, but I found this afternoon that I wanted to reach out to her. I wanted to write a short letter, but, in writing it, I wanted to avoid the pat, meant-to-be-comforting-but-not-at-all cliches. I know I can’t make it better, and I don’t want to make her pain any worse, but I do want to her know that she matters, and that her sister’s life matters; that those truths are acknowledged. Below is what I came up with:
I cannot even begin to understand the depth of pain and sorrow you are experiencing, and I know that there is nothing I can say or do to lessen it for you. But I am thinking of you, and your sister, and your family; and I care.
I’ll put it in her school mailbox tomorrow, for her to find whenever she returns. I hope it’s okay.