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Blessings come in small packages (and in sympathy cards).

It has been almost 13 years since Katie died. I opened a cabinet a couple of days ago that held all the sympathy cards we received from so many family and friends. I hadn’t viewed them in so many years. I don’t know what encouraged me to view them again that day. People who didn’t even know us, or Katie, sent us such hopeful messages. Some even included details of losses they had endured and understood how empty and confused we felt after Katie’s car crash in 2001.

I set a couple of cards aside to go back and read again. Some made me smile, most brought a couple of tears that need whisking away to enable me to read without blurring the words.

Next to the last card I read that day reminded me of a friend I had found the year after Katie died. The flower on the front looked like a gingko leaf my friend had a special fondness for. The leaf reminded her of her daughter, Elizabeth, whom she lost in a car accident 5 years before Katie’s accident. I ran my finger over the raised flower image before opening the card to read the message inside. My heart skipped a beat when I recognized the handwriting of my friend. I don’t remember her writing to us when Katie died, but in my hands I held the proof of the time she spent trying to console us with kind words, reassurance and various methods of contacting her and her husband.

I met my friend Kay by surprise on 10/5/2002 the day our ‘Farther Along” writing group met for the first time for what was scheduled to be a one day writing retreat for bereaved mothers. Kay embraced me in her arms that day, a warm embrace in such a cold room at Salem College library meeting room.

Touching words contained inside the card include:

“Words cannot begin to share the sorrow you must feel in missing your dear daughter.  Though each of us in the unrequested fellowship of parents whose children have gone before us feel pain for each other, none of us can experience it or lessen it in the same way.” 

Years have passed and our friendship has grown along with all the moms in our writing group. We have all been blessed to have one another as we continue to support one other as well as other individuals in their grief journeys.