It has been a difficult week here in Nova Scotia. While all of us were continuing to hang on to the roller coaster that is COVID-19, last Sunday morning news began to surface of unimaginable gun violence in our small towns and villages. Many of us have simply let go. Stunned, grieving and weeping, we are all struggling to move forward.
That Sunday morning, with the majority of the details of the violence still unknown, I was on the phone, having one of the hundreds of delightful conversations I’ve had over the years with my dear friend, Mary Savage. Mary and I first met when I was 20. She was an entrepreneur, at the beginning of growing her own real estate brokerage. I became her office manager and … 41 years later the friendship continues.
In this conversation, Mary happened to share a story that speaks of a small action we all can take to support the people in our lives – anywhere in the world – who are experiencing grief, loneliness and sorrow.
What is this action? And what is its impact?
Alone at home, my friend Mary has been “going through stuff”. One of the boxes she opened contained letters and notes from when her husband and my friend, Bob, died of complications from leukemia.
“There’s a note here from your friend, Janet, “ Mary said. “You need to tell her how much I appreciate her note. It was just the right length and had all the right words. Even now, it gives me pleasure to read it.”
Bob died 21 years ago. And yet that card, that short note of words that expressed support and caring, still elicits joy and gratitude.
Also this past week, I called the nursing home where my mother-in-law, Norma, lives. This nursing home is a two-hour drive from our house and we haven’t seen Norma since early March. She is moving toward the late stages of dementia and we miss her terribly.
When I called and asked how she was, I was told, “She’s great. She’s sitting in the sunroom reading all the notes she receives. They make her very happy.”
I’ve been sending her a note almost every day. They include a lovely picture – a flower, a sunrise, a cat – and three, clearly printed sentences. The first sentence is always about the weather (one of her favourite topics). The second relates to something we are doing or have done, like a walk on our neighbourhood trail. And finally, I’ll tell her how much we miss her, love her and hope to see her soon.
Handwritten notes are powerful communication. They do take a few moments longer than an email but their ability to convey support, love and connection is huge … and long-lasting.
These days, we are all wanting to express our support and encouragement to others. This week I encourage you to grab a pen and paper … and put your words in the mail.
If you want to send your words immediately to those impacted by mass shootings here in Nova Scotia, you can visit this website: https://novascotia.ca/iga/stronger-together/
What about you? Is there a note or letter you’ve received that continues to bring you joy? Do share in the comment section below.