Can’t Count to Five

The following Unsent Letter was sent to me anonymously and was donated to be put on the blog. I do not know who wrote it. She requested I include the information at the end of the letter. I don’t know if the letter is true or not, but I don’t think when you read it that it’s going to matter. I cried through editing it, so be forewarned.


My Dearest Baby Boy,

Sometimes when you are sleeping, I watch you lying there, so peaceful. I believe with all my heart that the world would be a better place if we could all know the peace of a sleeping child.

You’re young now, but you’re strong and beautiful and perfect. One day, you’re going to grow up and you’ll think back on these times, and you’ll remember. When you do, I hope you remember how I am now, and not how I’m going to become. This is the mother I want you to see me as. I suppose if there is one consolation to this it’s that I will always be eternally youthful in your memories.

Right now, you don’t understand the big grown up words that are being said around you. You don’t understand what Stage Four means. You don’t realize that, even though you have learned to count to 10 now, that when it comes to Cancer, five doesn’t come after four. Four is as high as Cancer can count, my darling boy.

I know you don’t understand words like blood tests, and hospice and home health. You don’t even seem to notice that mama doesn’t have hair like the other kids’ moms do. You still touch my face when I’m sleeping and tell me, “Pretty, mama.” And so I am, because of you. The only thing you know is that mama sleeps a lot, and she doesn’t wrestle on the floor with you much anymore. In a way, I’m glad that’s all you know.

I could talk to you, explain things, but there are grown ups who don’t understand things like this. I don’t know where to begin.

I love you. That’s where to begin. I love you. I wanted you so badly, and when they told me you were on your way to me, I was so happy. When you finally arrived, I wrapped my arms around you and held you close to me. Together, we cried, you and me, and the moment froze in time.

I will never forget.

There are things I will miss, like your graduation, your first girlfriend, your first car. Your father, bless his heart, will struggle through those things with you, and I know he will do just fine. He’s going to need you when I’m gone, and I think the two of you will learn to be the best of friends when you’re all grown up. Your father is a good man. You would do well to be like him some day. You have his chin and his lips, but your smile is your very own.

As you grow, there might be days you’re going to be angry with me for leaving you, and I want you to know that’s okay. It’s okay to be angry. I’m angry sometimes myself. Just promise me that when you are angry, talk to your father, or your friends. My friends and your father are the only things that kept me sane through all this. Don’t bottle it all up inside of you. And if you get angry with God, tell him. He’s a big boy, God is, and he can take a lot of anger from you.

It’s funny how priorities change when you realize the end is near. I am not fixated on memorizing every moment anymore. Instead, I can just sit back and appreciate each minute that passes, every second that goes by, grateful for one more breath, one more smile, one more tear.

I guess I sort of understand what it means to, “Live like you are dying.” I wish that for you, son. I wish that you could live like you were dying, appreciating every moment as though it might never come again, grateful for all the wondrous things around you.

Some day, I hope a long, long time from now, I’ll be somewhere on the other side waiting for you. I know when they tell me you are on your way, just like when you were born, I will be so happy. I will wrap my arms around you and hold you close to me. Together, we will cry tears of joy and reunion, and the moment can freeze in time for all eternity.

I love you, my son.



Cervical cancer usually has no symptoms whatsoever until it is too late. Thousands of women die from cervical cancer every year. Thousands more are diagnosed and treated. When detected early, cervical cancer is almost 100% treatable,with a very low relapse rate. When caught in later stages, doctors often can’t do much more than make a woman comfortable while she dies. Cervical cancer can be detected through regular pap tests performed annually, or more frequently if abnormal cells are present. It’s not just you it hurts if you don’t get tested. Your children, husband, friends, family… please don’t wait and think it won’t happen to you. Get tested today.

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23 Responses to “Can’t Count to Five”

  1. Linda St.Cyr says:

    Such a heart wrenching story. The tears are standing in my eyes. I’m so glad this person decided to share this and I hope more women get tested and learn the importance of getting annual exams.

  2. Gillian says:

    Gods, that has me in floods of tears. Heartbreaking to me as both a mother and a woman. I can’t begin to imagine what this mother is going through. I wish her peace in her remaining time and hope her son grows up to realise what an amazing woman he was able to call Mom.

    Get tested. Better a moment of pain than a life wasted.

  3. Cathy Doheny says:

    This letter rings 100% true to me. As the wife of a stage IV cancer survivor who will likely relapse and a mother of a young child, I have witnessed much of what she is describing first hand. How kind of her to donate this well-written and gut-wrenching letter. And what a wonderful platform to get the word out about the importance of annual pap smears. Whoever this brave soul is, I wish her a peaceful passage into eternity and her son and husband healing after they have grieved.

  4. Cathy Doheny says:

    This letter is especially timely, as this is National Young Adult Cancer Week.

  5. Windowshopping says:

    Trying to type with tears streaming down my face. This is a wonderful letter and a fantastic appeal to women, everywhere, to be tested at least annually. I hope with all my heart that she has left her son a time capsule – or even several capsules – that he can open as he ages and reaches those milestones she has mentioned. I’m betting, from her organization and sharp mind, that she has already thought of that.

    Blessings, Love, and Light on your journey and transition… your energy will change, but your love will abide… and they will feel you as they need you…

  6. Oh goodness, this is beautiful and heartbreaking. Thank you for sharing with us, and for the reminder not only to get tested, but about how precious each moment is.

  7. Oh…that was hard. I know of two women who died much too young of cancer, leaving children…so very sad. Thank you, anonymous, for sharing this.

  8. I am at once speechless and inspired.
    Being the survivor of a life-threatening illness I have learned much of what this anonymous author has written in this heartwrenching letter. What she has faced and is facing are enormous challenges with a strength that is beyond anything that a person would think possible.
    I pray she and her loved ones continue to face this battle with courage and strength. and that women everywhere would read this letter and realize the importance of taking care of themselves.

  9. This was great; terribly moving and poignant. Whether fictitious or real matters not when the writer can deliver a message like that! Tonight, I go to see a brother in the hospital who’s days are numbered in single digits, so, yeah it hit home with me. As I walked in from work just seconds ago, I was wondering how (or if) I could handle knowing I was going to die.

  10. Kristi Cramer says:

    Okay, so I’m still crying.

    I can’t type for long because I need to go wake my baby and give him big hugs and kisses.

    What a beautiful and terribly sad story, but with a great message and heartfelt reminder for us all.

  11. Dreamweaverr says:

    Wow. This was intense and powerful. I am sitting here crying and yet inspired.

  12. Borgieskid says:

    What a beautiful letter written during a time of such extreme stress, it shows a Mothers heart, doesn’t it? I’m sure that the son will treasure this letter for the rest of his life.

  13. Oh how strong this letter is to me. I was that baby boy, not realizing the count had gone to four though my mother had. The only difference is, I was 37 when she died, of breast cancer. Even though I was her caretaker and took her to her doctors and her chemo and lived with her suffering every day, I didn’t know she was terminal until the last time I took her to the hospital. Like the baby in the letter, I just wanted to hide my head in my safety blanket, hold my teddy bear, and suck on my pacifier. The letter truly shows a mother’s love and her thoughts about the end. How sad to read, but how inspiring at the same time. The letter is a reminder of the all important message, one that I discuss again and again each year in October (Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and the same month my mom died of breast cancer–ironic, huh?) in my blogs, get tested, ladies, and get tested every year or more without fail. Your health, and your family’s sake, depends on it. God bless you all.

  14. Oh, how heartbreaking. Such a beautifully statement of love. Now I must go wipe my eyes.

  15. That should be…

    “beautifully WRITTEN statement of love.”

  16. Audrey S.J. says:

    Wow. This was heartbreaking. May God hold close her family, and the families of those who have suffered/will suffer the same.

  17. Angel says:

    A very heartfelt letter. I hope God holds this family in his arms and gives them strength to face the times ahead. Cancer is an awful disease that too many have to face.

  18. Rissa says:

    Heartbreaking. My mother died of Ovarian cancer so I make sure to regularly get a pap and nag my sister when she doesn’t.

    This is one of my nightmares, leaving my baby boy too soon.

    My prayers are with this family.

  19. jckat says:

    I don’t have words that come close to being as well written and touching as yours but wanted to say that I am so sorry you are dealing with this. Your baby boy is blessed to have a mother who can express these things that he can read later in life and know how much you loved him. I hope that a miracle will touch your life and set your counter away from four.

  20. I want to thank the person who wrote this because cervical cancer isn’t something that women think about very often. We make the excuse that we don’t have the time or the money to go get tested. But we really should. This story truly touched my heart greatly. Thank you so much again for sharing this touching story.

  21. I was forewarned, but nothing could have prepared me for the rush of tears that reading this brought forth. As a mother and a grandmother, my heart aches for this woman and all that she must leave behind. As a person who lost her own mother too soon, I grieve for all that her little boy will miss–for the memories that will fade and the ones that will never have the chance to be made.

    May God hold this family close and help them through their pain.

  22. Lyn Lomasi says:

    Having had and been cured of cervical cancer twice, I can attest to the fact that the tests are so important. I am still crying from reading this. I cannot imagine having to write a letter like this to my children and I commend the author for sharing.

  23. Joy Armstrong says:

    So sad and so powerful. True or not, it took a lot of strength for someone to write that, and I’m glad you shared it with so many. I hope others pass it on. It’s important to get the word out. I am a cancer survivor.

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