April 21, 2004
I shouldn’t have done it, but tonight I retrieved one of my transplant books and reread it. The pre-transplant section includes suggestions for “Getting Your Affairs in Order.” I don’t have a will, and even if I did, I don’t have a thing to bequeath to anyone. But it made me think. My family would need to know the location of my life insurance policy, I want “The Prayer of St. Francis” and “Amazing Grace” sang at my funeral, and I want to write a message to be read to family and friends after the sermon. (This is the performer in me—even my funeral will be a production!) The passwords of e-mail and various financial accounts need to be shared with family. The addresses of friends who don’t have e-mail (or whose information is not stored in my cell phone) need to be noted so that in the event of my death, they can be contacted. And the most important loose-end is Aidan. I am his godmother, and I long to remain a presence in his life. As a Catholic, he will celebrate many sacraments as he grows into an adult and beyond, and I want to be sure he receives cards and messages from me on those special occasions (as well as high school and college graduations) regardless of my presence in this world.
Thinking about all of this has made me incredibly sad, and I’ve been sobbing for almost two hours now. Part of me wants to organize all of this information, and another part feels that if I do, then I am preparing to die. On the other hand, if I don’t put these things in order and I do die, none of my wishes will be known. I don’t want to die and I’m afraid that by doing these things I’ll be saying, “Okay, I’m ready,” and I’m not ready, and I’m so scared.
(Excerpt from Rebirth)
I posted the above journal entry on my blog the following day and shortly thereafter received a box in the mail from Karryn, a co-worker from my Cigna days in Cincinnati. I opened the package and inside was a floral filing box, about 5” x 9” x 12”. I removed the top and saw that the box was filled with greeting cards—probably more than fifty— for every occasion, even for Baptism, Communion, Confirmation, Penance and Reconciliation, and graduations. Karryn had read my blog post and decided that I needed a supply of cards.
I never did prepare all those cards with notes to Aidan in the event of my death. I couldn’t make myself do it, mostly because I refused to envision a future in which I was absent from his life. I suppose had my situation gotten worse and death looked inevitable, I would’ve written the messages and given the cards to his mother for safekeeping.
I have nearly exhausted that supply of cards. I used all the Baptism ones for Andrew, Grace, and Alexa (I had to purchase one for Nathaniel), but this is the first Communion one I've needed. Aidan, who was about sixteen months old when I wrote the above entry, is now eight and will make his First Communion this weekend. It is not only an important day for him, but also a joyous milestone for me: In April 2004 I did not know if I’d live to see him receive this sacrament, yet here I am, seven years later, still an integral part of his life.
I haven’t spoken to, seen, or even corresponded with Karryn in many years, but I will always treasure her gift of greeting cards; it meant the world to me. She saw a need and filled it. During that turbulent and uncertain time, it was the perfect gift.
What perfect gift have you received?