This week, an old friend contacted me that a mutual friend, his grandfather (whom he calls Jadek in the traditional Polish fashion) was in the hospital. His Jadek and I had only met a few times, but I loved him…as my old friend says, he never did meet a stranger in his whole life. The first time I met him, he clasped my outstretched hand in both of his, and looked me straight in the eye. It was at a time in my life when I was quite used to being invisible and ignored, and it struck me instantly. I was unaccustomed to being greeted with such warmth even by my family.
We soon connected on a mutual love of birds (this is a common way I connect with strangers, by the way), and we spent some time admiring a Great Crested Flycatcher in his backyard and looking it up in an old, worn field guide that he had.
Anyway, the point of this post is that when I heard he was in the hospital, I rushed to get a card to send to him and called the hospital, fumbling to figure out his name, since I had only known him as Jadek. But before I even had a chance to write it out, my friend let me know that he had passed.
And now the Get Well Soon card, cheerfully decked out in flowers, with a bumblebee buzzing across the front, seems to have become a symbol of my sadness over the whole thing.
Because here’s the conundrum of the Get Well Soon card…I can’t send it to my aunt, who’s dying of cancer. I can’t send it to my grandmother, who’s dying of cancer. I can’t send it to my grandfather, who was just diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. I have many loved ones in my life right now who will not Get Well Soon. In point of fact, they will never get better.
You can’t very well send a Get Well Soon card to someone suffering depression, or a disability, or the loss of a dearly loved one. It seems like a command or a critique: why haven’t you Gotten Well Soon?
So, do I hold onto the card, in hopes (?) that I will have someone to send it to who will, in fact, Get Well Soon? That seems cynical because I’m just waiting for someone to get sick. But discarding* it seems just a little over-optimistic. It’s inevitable that a friend or family member will eventually get sick. And then the optimistic thing to do would be to hope that they Get Well Soon.
I find myself angry at this stupid card, and angry that I bought it, and that Get Well Soon cards even exist.
For now, I put the card in my desk drawer. I couldn’t bear to look at its bright colours and smiling bee. It seems so at odds with the sadness of knowing that sometimes it’s impossible to Get Well Soon.