The pain of not knowing

I received word tonight of a colleague’s terminal diagnosis. Of how they’re not discussing treatment.   Of how there are no months or years, just days.

We’re not close, we’ve never even met. But I like her. She’s kind, responsive, and possesses a crisp New England accent that makes me both smile and pay attention when I hear it.

I envisioned her as tall and willowy. I don’t even know if that’s true.

I wish we’d met.

I wish I knew how I’ll grieve someone I never quite knew.

It’s like that, isn’t it?

Working, blogging, connecting.  We form ‘relationships’ with people we don’t know; we grow to count on them and they on us.  We learn the inflection in their laugh, how they sign their emails a particular way, and the sorts of things we differ on.  We learn who they are without ever meeting.

Her name is Susan.

And I am struggling to understand how not knowing her can make me weep even more.

“And when your sorrow is comforted (time soothes all sorrows) you will be content that you have known me. You will always be my friend. You will want to laugh with me. And you will sometimes open your window, so, for that pleasure . . . And your friends will be properly astonished to see you laughing as you look up at the sky! Then you will say to them, ‘Yes, the stars always make me laugh!’ And they will think you are crazy. It will be a very shabby trick that I shall have played on you…”
― Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, The Little Prince

Categories: Faith, Friendship, Grief, Growth, Life, Personal, Thoughts | Tags: , , , , , , , | 34 Comments

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34 thoughts on “The pain of not knowing

  1. Today seems to be a particularly sad day. I’m so sorry to hear your friend’s sad news. Because she’s your friend regardless of how you met, how you know each other. Soul-mates just happen, I think, in whatever sphere you find them.

    Today I learned that my friend Lynne’s husband Tom is not doing as well as they thought. Instead of going into remission, his cancer has spread and it is now just a matter of time.

    My bloggin’ buddy Twindaddy just lost a colleague.

    These things do seem to work in threes. So NO MORE. THAT MAKES THREE. Enough already!

    • Thank you; your empathy helps me understand that you’re right – we know each other enough.

      I’m sorry to hear of your double bad news – wow! And yes .. 3s. Let’s hope this is it!

      Thanks Elyse,

  2. It is like that, connecting with others as we go on this life journey. How wonderful to reach out to those we know and those we only know in our hearts. I love your Little Prince quote. Brings back memories from childhood when life was all about the future, possibilities and what was to come.

    • It is like that, you are so right. Thank you for your kindness. I’m frustrated that I can’t do anything about it or for her so I write .. and you respond! Thank you, MJ

  3. MJ, so sorry to hear this sad news.
    Our community lost one of its own this evening. A lively, spunky, outspoken lady, a senior citizen who remained young-at-heart. (Her granddaughter is married to my husband’s nephew.)
    Love the Little Prince quote.
    Take care – sending you a hug.

  4. Each friendship is a gift that fills a place in our heart…sometimes that is enough. My heart aches for you.

  5. Dear MJ…my heart aches for you….I pray for Susan that even with this diagnosis…miracles can happen for her…prayers for healing and for hope…God created us to need other people and connection…even though it can hurt…and often it can be hard….we are blessed to know others and feel part of their lives. Praying and hugging you and Susan in my heart and spirit.

  6. Hot Rod Cowgirl summed up my thoughts very well. Ditto. Hugs, and strength to both of you as these challenges are faced.

  7. This is so beautifully expressed – your empathy and friendship reaching out to people beyond your own physical space. And the quote is perfect. I’ll keep you and your colleague in my thoughts and prayers.

  8. I am so sorry, MJ.

  9. Oh, MJ, I’m so sorry. I know it’s difficult to describe the kinds of connections we make in the virtual world–and the pain of loss in that arena. These are new social realities and new forms of pain. And that makes the pain all the more difficult. Hugs to you, my friend!

  10. This is a tribute to your colleague…that you care so much. It’s sad indeed when someone in our work family goes through hard times or illness. You and your work familly will be in my thoughts and prayers.

  11. You are completely right! I sit here reading this, shedding tears for you, Susan and the truth you speak. What a lovely post and an equally tribute to someone you don’t really know but know so well.

    • It’s our new reality, isn’t it? I just hadn’t thought of things that way until this happened. Thank you, Janice, for your empathy. MJ

  12. I am sorry. Thank you for your beautiful insights into connection and loss. Thinking of you and of Susan.

  13. richripley

    It goes back to letting folks know what they mean to you. Honest compliments and observations…even if they’re somewhat distant in relationship. Tough call MJ. I’m sorry for the “hole” in your life that this leaves. She sounds like a good and decent person…and you’re a good judge of that. Take care.

    • Thank you, Rich. You’re right – she’s good and decent. I struggle with that, for it’s not for me to decide, but there’s enough ornery, mean ones left that it feels a little unfair to have the good ones go too soon. MJ

  14. I am so sorry. Your colleague is in my thoughts and prayers.

  15. it is strange, MJ. That sense of knowing someone, though you’ve never met. I step back and think about the relationships/friendships I have within the blogosphere all the time. I wonder how I would grieve, should someone I care about here become sick, etc. Strange, though not strange at all for all of us within the blogosphere.

    My heart goes out to you, Susan, her family, etc. This is the part of life that – for lack of a better word, sucks.

    • Thank you, Lenore Diane. You’re right – strange – but not so for us in the blogosphere.

      I learned that Susan passed away Wednesday morning. It was peaceful and she was at home, with her husband and two sons by her side. It’s hard to hear that but I am comforted by the fact that her family could be with her.


  16. I’m sorry to hear about your friend. Even if we don’t know someone, I feel like it’s just so shocking when we hear these things.

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