Just a few days after learning that our dear friend Jim had been diagnosed with Stage 4 lung cancer, the calendar informed us that his birthday was coming up. Larry and I wondered what kind of birthday card to send him.
All the funny or sarcastic cards seemed totally inappropriate. The flowery positive-thinking cards seemed too unrealistic and perhaps hurtful when considering the situation.
So, we decided to write him a personalized card.
The top of Jim’s birthday card read, “Celebrating You” and the subtitle said, “We Remember. . .” Then we wrote a list of 25 shared experiences such as:
We Remember . . .
. . . when we hiked the Pacific Crest trail, and Karen struggled with, but eventually conquered a really tough pass, you gave her the trail name, “Tough Cookie.”
. . . that you are the only person we know who can recite the alphabet backwards. Can you still do that?
. . . our long discussions of faith and God.
Jim enjoyed the card and the affirmation of a life well-lived. It also provided the three of us some topics for future conversations, which can sometimes be a challenge when a friend is very ill.
Birthdays are bittersweet events when a friend is very ill. We found comfort in providing this compassionate way to care for a friend. Perhaps you will too, if you are ever in this situation.
For more reading and resources, please visit our Being a Friend to the Terminally Ill page.