It’s a little dangerous when I start organizing, I never seem to finish. I didn’t get very far because I’m easily distracted from tasks that kinda suck. Mostly I was side tracked by a treasure trove of old cards, cards from about ten years ago, cards to Marty in the aftermath of her ruptured aneurysm.
When Marty was in ICU at Zale Lipshy Hospital in Dallas people would send cards to our son’s address in Dallas or our home in Waco and friend Sue would truck them up to Dallas when she visited. The cards were from all over, friends from church, Marty’s high school and college friends, strangers from other churches, little kids from Sunday school, from our own kids and our family. I saved all of those cards, bundled them up together and stuck them in a filing cabinet.
I would sit by Marty’s hospital bed where she lay in a coma with tubes coming from all parts of her body, draining fluids, breathing for her and feeding her. I would sit there and read her the cards and read her the notes inside the cards, often several times. It was a way to stabilize the chaos in my head, a way to drown out the constant hum of the respiratory equipment and the tones of the machines measuring Marty’s life forces and maybe a way to reach into Marty’s consciousness.
Reading those cards kept me connected and reminded me of the love and caring of others. I read the cards to Marty hoping somewhere somehow she heard their message….we love you, we are praying for you, wake up, get up, recover.
After Marty regained consciousness I once again read her all of the cards she had received. I sat by her bed, amazed she was finally awake. I read each card aloud, to my miracle of a wife who was still missing the left front part of her skull, had matted dirty hair from lying on her back for six weeks and still had way too many tubes coming from all parts of her body.
I read the cards to her, each word, several times, sometimes multiple times during the day. I wanted her to feel what I had felt when I first read her the cards. I wanted her to feel the connection to people outside of our new world that was centered in a medical center; I wanted her to hear the encouragement and pleas of her friends, old and new, to move, to recover, to get well. I wanted her to know how many people loved her and the cards helped with a very simple message, you have been laid low but you have not been forgotten.
I read her the encouraging words from Jane Ann, the words of love from my brother John, the words of comfort from Sherry, the words of prayer from complete strangers from a friend’s church, I read her the simple words from children.
We read them over and over again as Marty came back to life. We read them as she went to a regular room, we read them as she sat up in a wheelchair for the first time in weeks, we read them as Erin cut off her dirty, matted hair. I took the cards to comprehensive rehab and read them to Marty as she started getting stronger and the miracle of her recovery continued. I read the new ones Amelia and Joe and Ellen and Luan, I read the old ones again and every time she would listen and ask, “Now who sent that?” It was proof she was recovering.
I’m a big connectional guy. I hate to feel isolated and away, I need, and I mean need, to feel close to the world, to my people. The cards did that for me and they weren’t even meant for me, they were for Marty, the woman fighting for her life.
For Marty, they meant something even more, they reminded her of who she was, in a strange kind of way they brought her back to her world, to her friends and to her family. From very simple words, from very simple cards, from very thoughtful remarks she was reconnected to life.
Of course I read through the cards again instead of focusing on the reorganizing task ahead. It’s strange that these simple pieces of cardboard still carry power today. I will let Marty hold them and read them again and then file them away one more time.
The cards and the words and the people who sent them are our treasure.