Sometimes there are things that touch you in a certain way that leave you speechless. Simply without words to express what you feel in your heart. When I was cleaning out cubbies and corners in my bedroom recently – getting organized, (yet again) – I came across something that left me sitting in the middle of my bedroom floor in tears.
My old journal.
Tucked inside this journal were some very important handwritten notes I received from a very special family almost a decade ago. This has nothing to do with design – (except perhaps “God’s design” for life and death.)
You see, years ago I was introduced through a mutual friend to a young mother with the unusual name of Finley who was very sick with cancer. She had a beautiful little boy and a wonderful, loving husband and because of this, set about to fight the disease with everything she had. She was so passionate, so strong…..a “fighter”. I met her mother, too, the grandmother to her precious son (who was actually once a very successful interior designer herself in the Dallas area) who struggled with the enormous challenge and heartache of having a daughter with cancer…..fearful of losing her daughter…..fearful of her grandson losing his mother.
One night I had the privilege of accompanying this young mother with my friend to a cancer support group. There I sat with so many mothers, all joined in a bond that only cancer patients and cancer survivors feel – in a fierce battle for their lives – for more of that oh-so-precious thing called time on this earth to spend with their families they loved so much. To say it was moving and stirring is putting it mildly. There are simply no words……..
It touched me so deeply that I sat down one day to write a letter and a poem to this young mother to share my thoughts with her about this battle she was going through. My intention was to send them to her, but something stopped me. I was afraid it might somehow upset her or she might think me odd for writing to her – for writing a poem about her – since I really didn’t know her very well. Would it be perceived as positive or negative? Did it have an undertone of certain death or the undertone of hope? Would she take it from the heart with which it was written? I just wasn’t sure. So as strong as my desire was, as compelled as I felt to send it to her, I reluctantly hung on to it – feeling deeply torn about what to do.
When I found out later that she died I deeply, deeply regretted not sending it to her. Instead of worrying that it might have upset her my thoughts were now – maybe it would have been a comfort……maybe it would have meant something. And now I would never know. Do you know what that kind of regret feels like? There are no words…..So after fighting with the overwhelming regret I felt for having not sent it and the sense that I should have – I decided (actually, I felt a nagging sense of conviction for some reason) to send it to her mother whom I’d met only once for a short period of time.
Her precious mother’s unexpected response to that poem (I never dreamed I’d hear from her) left me shaking, speechless and in tears.
Here is what her handwritten note said:
Dear Sheri, I am without words – your letter to Finley, your letter to me – and your wonderful poem. Nothing that anyone has said or done has moved me so much. I wish you had sent it to her – but, she’s just read it over my shoulder so she knows and she appreciates it – I’m 100% sure of this. James and I are so very grateful to you for your love and concern for and your kindness to Finley.
If all your poetry is this good you ought to be published – at the very least this should go to Guidepost. I will save this very carefully for James when he is older. And may I share it with others?
My gratitude and love are yours……
And then I was so touched and honored to find, in the same package, that Finley’s in-laws sent the poem out with their Christmas cards that year.
They sent me this Christmas card with a copy of my poem that they had placed in each card – and this sweet handwritten note:
May your angel be watching over you, bringing you peace, comfort, courage, and strength during his Holy season and the coming year.
In memory of Finley, our angel, 1966-2001
Stumbling across all this again – in my cleaning frenzy – stopped me in my tracks and flooded me with the same emotions I felt the day I received this so long ago. So heartfelt and touching…
I so regret not sending it to Finley. I wish I had listened to the part of my heart that yearned to send it instead of the part of me that felt too insecure to follow through. I never want to miss an opportunity like that again, to feel regretful like that again, because I didn’t follow through on a simple act that might have, just maybe, been a comfort to someone during a time of great anxiety and need. At the very least she would have known she was in my prayers, known that I cared. Below is the poem:
A Friend Of A Friend
I met you but a moment
in this life here on earth,
but a moment changes lifetimes —
and for whatever it is worth….
you struck a chord within me
to cry out to God in prayer
that His grace will be sufficient…
and of this you’ll be aware.
No doubt it’s hard to understand
the brevity of life,
or why sickness falls upon
a mother and a wife.
All our days are counted
from the moment of our birth…
our struggles and our joys
as we enter life on earth.
And, though we’ll truly
never know —
why one is asked to struggle so…
I know God’s love
is very real,
that He loves you so
and always will.
For each of us the years
as will the burdens
that we carry —
but, God’s grace is sufficient
for us all,
He hears your voice
each time you call.
You must now stay focused
to endure the fight —
on God’s grace, His love
and the strength of His might.
“Be still and know that I am God”
He whispers in your ear…
He is ever present —
He is always near.
Don’t fret at the brevity
in this vast space called time,
for it’s eternity we seek
at the end of the line.
I saw Him in your eyes that day
His tender spirit in your soul,
so I know that you will be just fine —
and that His truth will make you whole.
Like a trip across the ocean
is our passage through time…
We enter a new life
and leave the old one behind.
And though it’s only human
to be anxious for the ride —
what treasures there await us
just on the the other side!!
In time I’d like to meet you
among the Christians there,
and tell you in my own words
what I couldn’t tell you here.
For now rest assure a distant voice
prays humbly from within —
a heart moved by your spirit
For God’s peace in the life…
of a friend –
of a friend.
Copyright 2001 – Sheri Martin
If I hadn’t sent it to Finley’s family it probably would have remained unread in my prayer journal all these years. And, I would never have known the joy of receiving these sweet, special, heartfelt letters that mean so much to me. I’m glad God’s continued nudging at my heart compelled me to send it to someone I met only once. Seeing their response after all these years warms me all over again and brings tears to my eyes.
I was a little uncertain whether or not to share this on my design blog, but felt compelled none-the-less. It stirred up such emotions in me again that I thought maybe, just maybe, there is someone out there going through something similar who will maybe, just maybe, be touched by this. Maybe not. But, when I feel strongly compelled and convicted about something it’s now my goal to just step outside myself and act on it.
Life is just simply too short.