When There Are No Words to Say. . .

When There Are No Words to Say. . .

When There Are No Words to Say. . .

Inspired by Rosalie Packard

She stood there shivering, raking her fingers over her head, strands of hair falling onto the sink; some snared under her nails. Her nerves were frayed, a violin string stressed to the breaking point. The wind and rain fueled the intensity of the moment, beating against the glass like an intruder trying to force his way inside.

I stood off in the corner, silently, out of sight. My eyes beaded with tears as I gazed at her, trying to comprehend what she was thinking. But how could I understand, even though I desperately wanted to? How could I possibly know what it felt like to be moments away from beginning a second round of chemotherapy treatments?

Standing there, I recalled the day more than a year earlier when she had first gotten the diagnosis. It was summer, one of those mornings when you step outside and are smacked by the sumptuous bouquet of flowers in bloom. We had planned on playing tennis that morning, but the phone rang, changing our lives forever. I walked inside, my cheery smile and sprightly colored yellow-and-white tennis outfit in stark contrast to the moment. She was sitting at the table, her face whitewashed, her hands fidgety. "I have cancer," she said crisply, so I would hear it the first time, so she wouldn't have to repeat those stinging words. The fresh-scented summer morning suddenly turned to gloom. "They want me to come in next week to discuss treatment options," she continued. "I just went in for my annual checkup the other day, and now they want to talk with me about treating cancer. My God!"

We made it through that morning, sharing our fears, which somehow made us both feel a little less frightened. We rode a tidal wave of emotions, crying together one minute and then convincing ourselves that she could beat the disease. The two of us shared our grief alone before sharing the news with family and friends.

She endured the chemotherapy treatments with bravery, losing more than fifteen pounds and most of her hair in the process. I had never bought her a hat before, but I purchased three in the next year. Once, as I placed a hat on the counter and handed my credit card to the saleslady, I broke down crying.

Then some good news came. Finally. The treatments worked. They got the enemy, I thought to myself. Thank you, God. It took some adjusting, but life got back to normal, that chapter of our lives behind us. Her hair grew back, she gained some weight, and we resumed our weekly tennis match. The hats she'd worn were happily stored in a box and stuffed in the closet of the spare bedroom. But now, in the time it takes to answer a phone call, a frightening new chapter has begun.

Standing there in the corner I asked myself, What can I say to her? I have asked that excruciating question a thousand times, and I asked it again. But at that moment, as she delicately caressed her cheeks and glared deep within herself, I realized that no word has been coined that can encompass a person's feelings. So hugs were invented instead. One loving embrace speaks volumes, so that's what I did.

I walked over silently, closed my eyes, and hugged her. I hugged my twenty-five-year-old granddaughter with all the love I had in my heart and soul, and then I accompanied her to the hospital.

Inspired by ROSALIE PACKARD © 2002 by Edward Fays

From A Grandparent's Gift of Love

About the Author and Book:

A Grandparent's Gift of Love is an inspiring book of stories that are filled with triumps, tragedies, memories and lessons that we can use in our own lives to bring comfort. It is for grandchildren and grandparents from all walks of life. For more information on the book read our review.

Click here to read our

review of Grandparent's Gift of Love


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