Making Your Words Count

Recently I shared that my aunt is dying of stage 4 colon cancer. Since my last post, she’s gotten a lot worse. So much so, that she has 24 hour nursing care now and when I asked my mom, who is so tired,  if she was able to steal away for a little bit of alone time to get a cup of coffee since she has help at the house now, she said she didn’t want to leave her side for that long.

Since the cancer moved to her brain; leaving her right side immobile, my aunt has had trouble forming words. Every day that goes by it has become more difficult for her to talk. So for the most part, she doesn’t.

But my mom said when she is by her bed, fluffing her pillows or rubbing her back, my aunt will put out her left hand and hold my mom’s face and say “love you.”

What a beautiful moment between two sisters during such a painful and sad time. Not there to see it in person, the picture in my mind’s eye alone bring’s tears to my eyes.  And it made me think about how important it is to make your words count.

When we have the energy, time and physical ability to say whatever we want, whenever we want…do we waste our words on negative things?

Or do we neglect to say what really matters to those that matter most to us?

It made me think about what am I wasting my words (and time and energy) on. I’m guilty of getting caught up in gossip or getting angry about things. And even when that anger is justifiable – I don’t always pick my words carefully.

What if I made every word count? I often take for granted that I will always have the time and ability to say what I need to, to those that I care about.

At this point my aunt, no doubt, is choosing her words carefully. This morning, I did too.

Instead of hurrying my kids out the door to school (we are always in a rush in the mornings) when our car pool arrived, I stopped them both…took each of their faces in my hands, looked them directly in their eyes and said “love you”.

The moment was brief but powerful (for me and them). I often tell them I love them, but when I held their face and looked them in the eye I said without words – “pay attention – what’s coming next is very important.”

Just two words. But it’s all I needed to say.

If you were able to say just a few words to someone you care about, what would it be and who would it be to? 



  1. 1
    Shannon Haubrich says:

    Thank you for this post. I have been trying to get my teenage son to understand why a kiss goodnight, an i love you or a random snuggle is so important. I am giving this to him to read when he gets home. I think your words will make the impact I have been trying to get him to understand. My heart breaks for your family but I am glad you are all getting time to spend with your Aunt. I hope peace finds you all.

    • 1.1
      Jennifer Patrick says:

      Shannon, thank YOU! You are so right – a snuggle, a kiss and “I love you”….it’s all so important. We have today…really just this moment… to be present and make count. Right?!
      As a mom of a tween boy – I know it can be embarrassing… a kiss from mom, ewww! But what their friends don’t see – who cares.(chances are – anyone watching would just be thinking to themselves….man, I could use a hug, too!)
      Hugs to YOU, my friend! 🙂

  2. 2

    Thank you so much for this. As I care for my aging grandparents, I sometimes find myself incredibly frustrated with their denial of their need for help and the extra burden it creates for me, especially in terms of anxiety. But sometimes I remember that any conversation I have with them could be the last one and I need to choose what I say intentionally. I’m so sorry for your mom, your aunt, your whole family for what must be a very painful time. But I’m glad you get to see and share these reminders to all of us.

    • 2.1
      Jennifer Patrick says:

      Thanks Sarah. Through this experience I have developed such a deep respect for those who are care givers to family members who are sick and/or aging. Such a huge and often difficult job…but also such a gift. To be there in the final stages of someone’s life – that’s incredibly powerful. You have such a loving and kind soul, your grandparents are so lucky.

  3. 3
    Michelle in Htown says:

    Blessings on you and our family as you struggle through this difficult time.

  4. 4
    MichelleC says:

    I have so much empathy for your mom right now, I went through something similar with my mom when her breast cancer advanced to her brain and we watched her slipping away. I wish I could have some of those moments back to tell my mom just how important she was in my life. We didn’t realize how fast we would lose her and I still don’t think I told her the things I wanted to before she was gone. Keeping your family in my thoughts through what I know is a difficult time. {{{Big Hugs}}}

  5. 5

    Thanks for all of your work on this web page. I am looking forward to reading more of your posts in the future.

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