Today a narrow, white envelope with a small cross on the front was waiting for us in the mailbox. It contained a card with a photo of green trees on it, signed in blue pen by Dad's former coworkers at the university. They sent the card to say that they're sorry you died.
You might remember how on the day of Dad's doctoral defence, we told all his former coworkers that we were expecting you. You were already eleven weeks old, and we thought it would be a while until we would see them again. So we told them the good news. They pumped our hands and patted our backs — they were happy with us.
Just eight days later, we received the bad news, your diagnosis. Sometimes Dad wished we hadn't even told his old coworkers that we were expecting you. They wouldn't really have needed to know. Occasionally on a business call, one of them would ask about you. What could Dad say, from his open-concept office? He would just say yes, it's a son. Yes, he's busy kicking and growing. Yes, we look forward to meeting him.
A few weeks after your death, Dad finally told them what happened. He told them all at once, with one round of email, so they'd all find out at the same time. Today, it was bittersweet to find their card in the mailbox. They shared in our joy, and today it felt like we came full circle — they shared in our sadness.
In a world where instant communication is easier than ever, our culture's slower but more tangible communication traditions are still important. Sending cards is a formality we have, Nahum, but a good formality.
A card says to someone else:
Your joy matters to me.
Or, your sorrow matters to me.
What happens to you matters to me.
Mom eventually pastes each card or letter into your bursting bright blue notebook. It's so full that it almost won't close anymore; the elastic band around the end is taut. It's a notebook overflowing with kind words. Cards help us close the circle of our grief, offering comfort over and over again.