Sunday, February 7, 2010
I just finished writing an email to an interstate colleague I haven't seen for a couple of years. We've only ever met a dozen or so times but he has always been very good to me. Unfortunately, he is suffering from a terminal illness and the purpose of my email was to let him know that he was in my thoughts. It's an email that should have been written several months ago when I first heard he was sick. I guess I was scared. I didn't know if he would react badly to having someone contacting him out of the blue (sometimes these things are deeply personal and people want to deal with it in private). Finding the words can be difficult too. What the fu*k are you meant to say? I had to write a card a few years ago to another colleague whose son had committed suicide. It took me an hour to write the message, which I then tore up and tossed into the bin. The second attempt was better. It was shorter and less encumbered by what I thought the family might want to read and more informed by what my heart was telling me to write. I hope this colleague with the terminal illness reads the email in the same spirit in which it was sent.