Aimee Herd : Oct 18, 2012 : Dear Deb, by Margaret Terry
Margaret Terry stumbled upon a uniquely personal and comforting way to bring joy, love and strength to her dying friend, Deb, when she began to write letters to her, filled with intimate secrets, true stories and encouraging thoughts.
Margaret’s letters were so effective—and loved by others as her friend Deb shared them—that Deb once told her, “I want you to know that if my illness inspired you to write these stories . . . the cancer was worth it.”
Deb made her friend promise to have them published one day.
Now, over 100 of Margaret’s writings to Deb have been collected in a book to be released in October titled, “Dear Deb: A Woman with Cancer, a Friend with Secrets and the Letters that Became Their Miracle.”
I caught up with Margaret recently, and asked her some questions about the book . . .
How did you come up with the idea to write letters and stories to your
After Deb was diagnosed with stage 4 inoperable lung cancer, she asked me to send her encouraging notes. At first, I offered to bring her a meal a few times a week because I love to cook but she refused the food and asked for words instead. I began with short hopeful notes but when a brain tumor was discovered 2 weeks after her lung diagnosis, I was sure Deb had to be terrified with having 2 cancers to fight. I didn’t know how it felt to have cancer, but I knew about fear and loss so I started sending her stories about my life where I might relate to what she was feeling.
Can you share a short example of one of the letters or stories that you shared?
One of the letters I sent Deb was about the day my dad met my sons for the first time. We had been estranged for over 20 years and my sons were 9 and 11 by the time he asked to meet them. Here is an excerpt from that letter:
Michael sat facing his grandfather for the first time. “You looked like me when you were eleven, Grandpa?”
“I sure did, pal! I’m gonna send you a picture of me in grade school so you can see for yourself.” Dad leaned back and placed his hands flat on the table.
Michael imitated him, peering over his own hands to see if their hands looked alike too. I felt a curtain lift as I remembered moments of my childhood. Dad’s strong, masculine hands, always immaculate, nails trimmed evenly. Hands that swung me in circles playing airplane, hands that showed me how to catch a ball, hands that clapped the loudest when I bowed at the curtain calls of my high school plays.
I felt a powerful urge to rush over and stand between my son and father at the table. My desire to grab both their hands and hang on made me feel like I was being carried by a current strong enough to launch me over a waterfall. I yearned to know what it would feel like to touch them both at the same time, to be connected and to feel what other families felt; families who celebrated holidays together, families who learned forgiveness and who were unafraid of their pasts.
What have you learned about caring for and ministering to a friend in need, through your experience with Deb?
I’ve learned that people who are sick still want to do life with us. They don’t want to make everything about their illness—they want to talk about the latest movies and the book we’re are reading, they want to hear about how our dog chewed up the neighbor’s garden or that we might be afraid of losing a job. They want to talk real things that make us laugh and cry, real life . . .
How have the letters, and the book changed your life in general, and for the future?
For most of my life, I was very closed about sharing anything that might make me feel vulnerable. I was afraid that if people found out about my childhood or some of the mistakes I’d made, I would be judged and branded “unlovable”—the worst thing for someone who has experienced abandonment as a child. I was really good at pretending everything was fabulous, believing that if I acted that way, then it eventually would be. Writing to Deb about those things helped me see there is wonderful healing when we share our story—healing for the teller as we open locked doors in our hearts, and healing for the listener who is invited to step into our story and say “me too.” I learned that the most tender, private things in our hearts have the most universal appeal and they can connect us to strangers in wondrous ways . . .
Follow the Source link to view more about Margaret’s book, and to purchase it inElijahShopper.com.