Tonight ran by the post office to pick up my mail, an ordinary task in an ordinary world. Polar temperatures have returned; it will be even colder tomorrow. I open a card-sized envelope from my friend Sandra. We have known each other since graduate school at Iowa: we helped each other find a place in what was essentially a far distant country of the mind. We continue to stay in touch, through relationships, moves, new projects, deaths of our parents, and the twists and turns of politics of career and country. In the envelope was a card with a bright blue and red eagle design, and simple but profound words of thanks and encouragement for the New Year. She enclosed a card with what she knows is one of my favorite images, the only art my mother’s mother ever had on her wall in the one and two room houses she and my grandfather lived in: the angel protecting two children walking across a broken bridge. I appreciate my friend Sandra’s witness of my life. We do that for each other.
We all witness for each other on this Earth. It is a profound act. Sandra’s note reminded me how profound. In these last months I have lost many people with whom I have traveled in this world. One was like a mother, another a fierce teacher, and two like brothers. I almost lost one of my closest friends to cancer, a cousin is fighting the fight of his life, and another friend was up late last night writing her will and to think of her passing was almost too much to bear. All of it can feel too much to carry in the dark, and then someone reaches out with words, a song, a simple image or gesture that says I am watching. I am here walking alongside you until we make it to the other side. It matters.
Write, call and encourage.