Can I Just Tell You?Can I Just Tell You? NPR's Michel Martin gives a distinct take on news and issues

My Gift To 'Sandee'

I might as well tell you the truth about something:

If I did not have an office full of people relying on me and two kids at home doing the same, these past few days are ones I would much rather have spent in my bed with the covers pulled over my head.

I may have mentioned that a dear friend of mine lost her battle with cancer recently. Sandra Gregg was "put to rest" a week ago. I trust and hope she is indeed at rest, but that day was one of the saddest days of my life, and that is saying something.

She was one of the most luminous people you'd ever want to meet, really a blessing to everyone around her. I know people always say that when someone they love dies before his or her "time," but you'll have to trust me when I tell you this is true. At a Web site set up to update her friends on news of her struggle with cancer, and then the funeral arrangements made for her, there were messages from all over the country. I was floored.

Now, Sandee's dad was a military officer, so she did have experience in honing that gift of ease in making new friendships, but I'm talking about people she met on a cafeteria line while she was on a graduate fellowship — who she was still in touch with years later.

Our friend Gwen gave one of the most amazing eulogies you will ever want to hear (and I still can't believe how she was able to speak so beautifully and so eloquently, despite the pain — those two were so, so close; thank you, Gwen). Anyway, Gwen said Sandee collected friends like a black jacket collects lint. She couldn't have put it better.

One day, Sandee was wearing a pair of earrings I had brought back for her from a trip to Israel I had made years before. I was so tickled to see her wearing them, I said something about it.

"Oh, you still have those earrings."

And she looked at me like I was crazy. Why wouldn't she have them? She loved them; why wouldn't she be wearing them?

In a world in which people and things are so easily disposed of, Sandee was a person who saw value in everything and gave away nothing.

And, yes, I know what I am supposed to say: She's in a better place; her suffering is over.

But can you blame me for asking why she had to suffer so much in the first place?

And yes, many people are suffering in other ways. Many, many people are out of work right now in this country and around the world, and they are scared and, I bet, angry.

Today is one of those days I have to ask myself, why? Why do so many have to suffer so much?

We have spent a lot of time on this program sharing your stories of life during these turbulent times. And in our own way, we are trying to help. I think I can speak for everyone on this program when I say we want to be a light in these times of trouble, a source of insight, comfort and strength.

We wish we could fix troubled mortgages, find jobs and ease suffering.

We can't. We're just a little radio program.

But please, let us know if there's anything that we can do to make your lives better.

You can call it my gift to Sandee.

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Can I Just Tell You?Can I Just Tell You? NPR's Michel Martin gives a distinct take on news and issues