This is a letter I
wrote to dear friends. Leo was a survivor of Auschwitz.
He was in the death camps as a child; his parents and
four siblings were murdered. He survived. His wife had a
benign brain tumor removed three years ago, and still
suffers from serious radiation effects. Leo developed
lung cancer last fall and went through chemotherapy and
radiation. The cancer spread to the brain, and Leo has
since passed away.
I believe that this
letter speaks to so many of us, regardless of our
26 July 1997
I look at these
photographs, and I see a man and a woman so joined, so
connected, so deeply in love that ultimately nothing can
These are the
words I want to say to you, but they don't come easy.
I've struggled most of the night trying to decide
whether I should or shouldn't tell you what I am about
This morning I
woke up with this overpowering sense that I must.
You are afraid.
Afraid of the dark. Afraid of the unknown. Afraid of no
longer being with one another. Afraid of dying. Fear of
death is natural. It keeps us alive!
You are angry.
Angry because you feel that you are about to be robbed
of something that is yours by right: life. Angry because
of all the things still left undone. Angry because you
have suffered so much already, and it just isn't fair
that there should be more agony. Being angry is natural
as well. The organism strikes back whenever it is
You deny it. You
want to block it all out of your mind. You want to hide
from it. You want to pretend that the thing you fear
won't happen, can't happen. This, too, is natural, a way
for us to protect our psychic circuits from an overload.
But finally, you
will have to accept the inevitable. Human beings are
mortal. All of us will die. I am no exception. You are
no exception. You may live through the present crisis
and have a few more months or years together, but now is
the time to make an essential decision. You can choose
to complete this final segment of your journey hand in
hand, as you have walked for some forty years, or you
can choose to pull apart now and take the final few
steps alone, each trying to protect the other. You can
stop sharing with one another the very fears which haunt
you most. You can tell one another not even to consider
certain possibilities. Or you can make the end-time of
your lives a grace-filled time of sharing and growth, of
holding one another, of weeping and remembering
together, of learning to let go of the world, of
allowing your love-which is also God's love-to light
your path as you pass through the dark chasms and
tunnels of fear.
I love you!
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