Without Words – Sad Post

I’m never at a loss for words .. but you already know that, right?

Mom called me this morning and told me that my cousin wanted to talk to me. She asked that I call late this afternoon. She’s undergoing radiation and mom said the evenings are the best time to talk to her. That was a phone call I did NOT want to make! I called a couple of times and got no answer so left a message so she would know I had tried to call. Each time the voice mail picked up, I felt relieved. But, I knew I could not let Robin pass on without having talked to her so I called until I spoke with her.

I didn’t know a single thing to say! She and I have talked on the phone for hours and suddenly, nothing that came into my head was right to say and everything I thought was right, sounded completely wrong when it came out.

I guess it’s always like this. Most of us hopefully don’t get enough experience in dealing with friends and family who have only days left to live, to be comfortable in talking with them. The idle chit-chat we’ve talked about so often in the past suddenly seemed stupid, meaningless and downright childish.

What was I supposed to say? What did she want to hear? She knows I’m sorry and would do anything I could to change her circumstances. Did she want the idle chit-chat we’ve done so often late into the night? Did she just want something that seemed normal?

She sounded very weak and her words were very slurred and I could hardly understand her. In fact, a couple of times I wasn’t even sure what she said and I just said “yes”, hoping that wasn’t a totally wrong response. When we started to hang up, she asked me to call her again tomorrow. I will. Maybe the words will come easier, maybe not. I feel so inadequate.

I hung up and sat down outside on the concrete sidewall and cried. I thought about what really matters in life. I tried to imagine how I would feel if I only had a few days left to live. I can’t even grasp it. I can’t think like that. I’m not in that position, as far as I know. The words to Tim McGraw’s song, Life Like You’re Dying, came to mind. This is what I will go to bed thinking about tonight:

Tim McGraw

He said I was in my early forties
with a lot of life before me
when a moment came that stopped me on a dime
and I spent most of the next days
looking at the x-rays
Talking bout the options
and talking bout sweet time
I asked him when it sank in
that this might really be the real end
how’s it hit you when you get that kinda news
man what’d you do

and he said
I went sky diving
I went Rocky Mountain climbing
I went 2.7 seconds on a bull named FuManchu
and I loved deeper and I spoke sweeter
and I gave forgiveness I’d been denying
and he said someday I hope you get the chance
to live like you were dying.

He said I was finally the husband
that most the time I wasn’t
and I became a friend a friend would like to have
and all the sudden going fishin
wasn’t such an imposition
and I went three times that year I lost my dad
well I finally read the good book
and I took a good long hard look
at what I’d do if I could do it all again

Like tomorrow was a gift and you got eternity to think about
what’d you do with it what did you do with it
what did I do with it
what would I do with it’


  1. 1

    Jeanne says

    Judy, I’m sure just hearing your voice meant more to her than any certain words you might say. I wish I could help, too.

  2. 2

    ruth says

    Thinking of you, and thinking of her. My best friend died last year from cancer and know a little of what you are feeling.

  3. 4

    atet says

    No matter how much experience you get, it never gets easier. The only thing that really counts though is “I love you”. My heart goes out to you.

  4. 5

    Carol says

    Judy I wish there was something I could do to help you. I lost a friend last year around Easter to lung cancer. Her sister told me at her memorial service how much our last visit meant to her. I thought I said all the wrong things. It is just so sad. I’ll be sending extra special thoughts your way.

  5. 6

    Connie says

    Judy, Your calling was the important part. She knows. Just love her. I wish I had some magic words to offer you too but I don’t. This part of life is so difficult and there’s not much to soften it, except the comfort that comes from above. I’m so sorry for you, for her, and for the family. God bless each of you and keep you in his hand. Hugs.

  6. 7

    Amanda says

    I agree with “atet”, “I love you” is so important. I will be praying for you, her, and her family.

  7. 8

    tami says

    I am so sorry. I know just how you are feeling. I think that they are comforted with the simple connection. You don’t have to say anything important just be there to show you care.

  8. 9

    Anna Banana says

    Judy, I just went through this with my father in December. Hospice gave us some printed information about what to expect and what to do. One of the things that usually happens at/near the end is that our loved ones will “ask our permission” to go. Try to be ready for this – it is very hard and sometimes we were not aware that that was what he was doing until later. The asking takes different forms with different people. My father clung to a miserable life until he finally got a visit (and I assume permission) from his brother.
    Do whatever you need to do for yourself too. If that means a visit to see her, then you should make every effort. Only you know.

  9. 10

    Joanne says

    There is nothing to say. I’m sure she just wants to hear your voice. Tell her all the things we always wish we had said or just tell her you love her. She knows. Hugs and prayers.

  10. 11

    Evelyn aka Starfishy says

    Judy – send a card! When my Mom was sooo sick, too sick to talk, she always loved the daily mail and the stack of cards that were sent. Some people sent several cards a week and they really cheered her up. On days when 10 cards would arrive, we would save 2 for the next day – just in case, but the next day always brought more. It is not an easy time, my thoughts are with you.



  11. 12

    Sheryl T. says

    You’ll always be glad you called her. I lost the only cousin I was somewhat close to last year from Multiple Sclerosis. Even if the words didn’t make sense, it was your voice she wanted to hear. Take care.

  12. 13

    Mary says

    Just being available to talk to her means more than what you actually say. I know it must be a very difficult time for you and your family.

  13. 14

    Patti says

    I don’t think it matters what you say. Of course it would be better if you could be there holding her hand, but if you can’t then talking to her is the next best thing. I think if I were in your situation I’d talk about memories of times you had together – especially memories that will bring a smile to her face and a laugh. I heard a marvelous lecture years ago that I’ll never forget by Elizabeth Kubler Ross, who spent years studying death and dying. Almost everyone who has reached the spot your cousin has reached are ready for death and have accepted what is happening to them. They have found a sense of peace. What she still has are her memories – cherish them together in the time she has left.

    At least that’s what I’d do. That’s what I did when I sat by my sister as she was dying from a brain tumor – one of the hardest things I’ve ever done.

  14. 15

    Bonnie says

    I’m sure sorry about your cousin. I’ve been through this lately as well and I understand how hard it is to know what to say. I’m sure just your being on the other end of that line was what she needed.

    Did you call her again?