Sunday, December 3, 2023

Writing a Letter to God with No Return Address

 Throughout my life, I’ve written letters, addressed them to God, and dropped them off at the post office. I did this when my first son died, when I got divorced, and when I finally attained my bachelor’s degree after being a single mom. I never included a return address or a clue to my identity. This was just my message in a bottle, so I felt like Heaven heard me…

Today, I thought about this at the pharmacy. Mike had tried getting my prescription, but there are national shortages on many medications—and mine are some of them. “They ran out,” Mike said, coming back to the car. “Sorry that took forever; there’s a huge line.”

“But… my oncologist called yesterday. They have just enough for 18 days.” And then I did something I rarely do in front of Mike; I cried.

We walked back into the pharmacy to see six people in line, and as we stood there, my right leg began to shake. “You should go sit down.”

“It’s okay,” I told Mike. “I don’t wanna miss when it’s our turn.” They hadn’t listened to him. Maybe they would listen to me.

At different points, each person in front of us glanced back. They all seemed around my age (40) or younger, healthy, probably doing some Christmas shopping. Then, I had the audacity to think, “Why don’t they offer to let us go ahead? Mike was just in here. And I can barely stand this long.”

One man in line called his mother and complained about his kids while we waited. “Hi, Mom.” He paused. “Yes. Just at the pharmacy. There’s a huge line.” Another pause as he glanced back, listening to her reply. “Right?! He said he can’t even face his friends unless he gets a new gaming system this year.” He exhaled with such force that I clocked it at 50 mph. “Oh! And you know I take Nicki on a shopping spree every year? It just never seems to be enough. I hate this time of year. Are all women that needy? No wonder men joke about marriage.” 

Mike looked at me and smirked. I plastered a smile onto my face, but it felt subpar. I thought of this woman, “Nicki.” Meanwhile I’m just praying for another week, another day, another moment with my family.

After a bit longer, they called us up and my leg shook so badly that I held the counter in a death grip. “I have terminal cancer,” I said, my eyes pleading with the pharmacist and my knuckles turning Porcelain 10. 

“It’s for Magagna, right?” He looked at Mike, remembering him from earlier.

“My oncologist called yesterday and said you have enough for 18 days,” I begged.

“But like I told your husband, we can’t fill this for the full 30 days. We don’t have enough for this prescription.”

“My doctors’ office is closed for the weekend, and I’ll be out of this tomorrow. If it’s not too much to ask, can I please have the 18 days?”

He typed something into the computer, and my breath stopped. He practically held my life in his hands. “This’ll take about 15 minutes. I’ll come get you when it’s ready? You can take a seat over there.”

I noticed then how stressed the pharmacist looked. “I’m sorry about the line,” I suddenly said. “This must be a stressful day for you too. Thank you for your help.”

His peered at me and Mike, his eyes widening with disbelief. “What you're both going through is so much worse. I’m sorry you have cancer.”

“Well, let’s just say I didn’t ask for it.” I tried to laugh, but it came out like a hiccup. Then I turned away. 

Mike decided to shop for some ice melt, and as I walked toward the chairs, I fought falling into the throes of irony. A private corner seat, behind a display of reading glasses, seemed ideal. I felt secluded as I mulled my thoughts. Why had this hit me so hard? Then it came to me, the thing I’d said to the pharmacist: “Let’s just say I didn’t ask for it.”

One of the hardest things about cancer is knowing it can affect anyone. I’d gone from participating in marathons to barely being able to walk to my mailbox. I faced the pharmacy’s northwestern wall and tears flooded my cheeks. I have terminal cancer. And there’s no denying it. Every moment in pain is a reminder.

God, not this! Not here. Wiping my face with my scarf, I dug a medical bill from my purse and flipped it over. “Dear God,” I wrote, hoping to calm down.

Dear God,

I didn’t choose this situation, and right now that’s hard. I don’t want to have terminal cancer anymore. I want a day where I don’t feel sick at all. Even ONE day. Just to remember what that was like. I’ll appreciate it so much. God. I feel trapped in my own dying body.

I hate knowing that without certain medicine I’ll die. I hate that these are my fears while some man’s wife is upset that she won’t get as much STUFF as she did last Christmas. Seriously?! I need strength. Strength to stop judging people. 

Strength to keep getting cancer treatments. Strength to not complain and let this turn me into a bitter person with a curdled soul. No one can uncurdle milk! (Well, I guess YOU can.) But anyway…

Another person called last week and said I should quit getting treatments because I don’t have a quality of life. I laughed at first, but on my hardest days, I remember their words and it’s hard to keep going.

God… I’m sorry to be so judgmental. I really am. I’m working on it.

AND… if it’s not too much to ask, can you please give me strength? I know you’re gettin’ a lot of requests though, so if you can’t, I understand.


At that moment, I glanced toward the counter and spotted a woman who looked 10,000 times worse than me. She’d lost her hair and probably weighed 100 pounds—even with her walker. She could barely walk and hunched so badly; I wanted to pick her up in my arms and hold her tight. Why hadn’t I looked back when I was in line? Why hadn’t I offered to trade HER places? Screw my aching hips and shaking leg. Why hadn’t “I” done more? Then the answer came: Because I was too wrapped up in my own problems. And that’s exactly why other people hadn’t offered to help me…

Woah. Mind blown… 

I suddenly felt sympathy for the man whose family always wants more. I felt bad for his wife who doesn’t know what really matters. I felt even more compassion for the pharmacist who’d just been yelled at and wiped sweat from his brow. And I felt a bit of strength come with every second that I stopped focusing on myself.

“You wanted to swing by the post office?” Mike asked as we walked out of the store.

I looked at the letter I’d written on a medical bill. It simply had my first and last name above all of the numbers. For the first time, I’d broken my one rule: to never write a letter to God that included personal information. “No, it’s all right. We can just go straight home,” I said.

With one hand, I crumpled the bill and threw it into a big garbage can at the front of the store. God had already answered my prayer. He’d given me strength AND empathy. I guess He really can hear us anywhere, even in a pharmacy in southeastern Idaho. Plus, He didn’t charge for same-day delivery or anythin’. 


  1. Hi.This might be nothing, but please google Faron Pharmaceitical and ceo Markku Jalkanen.Here in Finland they got good results of new cancer medicin for people that nothing else have helped.Coming to markets hopefuly 2025.Last weekend this was mensioned at San Diedo cancer seminar also.Br Terhi Tuchyner from Finland.

  2. My heart breaks for you hunny. Il keep you in my prayer. Jesus loves you