Thursday, April 10, 2014

Last Postcard

Something strange is going on here. The day before my Mom passed, my friend Margie Moore’s Dad passed in Australia. The day after, my friend Kenny Kornfield’s Mom passed. The day of, Mickey Rooney at the same age as my Mom, 93. All long lives lived fully and leaving behind trails of great beauty. The natural order of events— one can’t help but feel the blend of joyful celebration with grief and sorrow.

But yesterday, another beautiful spirit passed on, far too young by any standards, but perhaps with a purpose also fulfilled of bringing light and love to everyone she met. Two years ago, a music therapist friend in Spain asked me to send postcards from my travels to a teenage cancer patient named Vero who loved to collect them. I wrote faithfully for one year to someone I never met or had seen a photo of, who wrote me two postcards in that whole year— and yet, how I felt I knew her by holding her in my imagination and sharing my travels with her.

And then one year later, I did meet her. She came to my Orff workshop in Madrid and participated in it so happily. Afterwards, we had a brief time to play piano together. She came again the next day and that was that. Back to writing postcards, not quite as frequently, but still I kept the connection. A ffew weeks ago, I found out that the cancer had suddenly advanced rapidly and she was with her loving family in her last days. And so I wrote the final two postcards to her, the first just before I knew, the second after. It was the first time I talked directly of her illness and as it turns out, the last. And neither arrived in time for her to read them. Though I wrote them in Spanish, I translate them here. Such a gift to have known her, such a great sadness that she has left us.

Dear Vero,

It’s impossible for me to pass a store with postcards without thinking of you. I imagine it will be that way always. You have given me so much happiness accompanying me like this on my trips. Now I’m in Santiago, Chile and while today is the first day of Spring in San Francisco, it’s the first day of Autumn in Santiago. How strange! I imagine that Heaven is something like that. Here the leaves are turning, the days are growing short and there is a taste of sadness in the air, there new leaves are sprouting, the birds are coming back home and all is brimming with the joy of new life. I hope that this is so!

One thousand hugs,


Dear Vero,

I just found out that you are not well, that your cancer has advanced further and that you are in your home in the circle of your family’s loving arms. Although I am far away in Brazil, I want to add my arms to that circle. Here in the postcard is Corcovado, with Christ the Redeemer standing with his arms perpetually outspread as if to receive you with more loving arms— or offer a benediction so you may continue to be here amongst us. In either case, you will be in peace. It has been a great honor in my life to have met you. I will remember you with love and affection until the end of my days.

Vaya con Dios,


1 comment:

  1. I sent her cards one August while you were busy directing the summer levels course. Thanks for letting us know. So sorry to see her go. Lovely picture.


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