Both are red…

I was chatting to a friend of mine on the MSN:
He had ordered 9 roses in a vase. Red roses…
For the wedding of a friend who lives in a different town…
– Aaaa, how nice, I said. He will be very happy when he sees them…

But somehow there was a sadness in me… because on Friday I will be buying carnations for a friend; red carnations… but my friend won’t be happy when she sees them.

Maybe I told this you before…
There is a psychiatrist at Cerrahpaşa Medical Faculty: Prof. Dr. Kemal Arıkan.
He is a very different, special person…

One day Prof. Kemal goes for consultation to the patients in the bone marrow transplant unit. (A short note for those who don’t know: it is the unit where leukaemia patients undergo bone marrow transplants).
Because of the special health status of these patients, this unit has to be extremely hygienic.
Just imagine the isolation in this intensive care unit: on one hand the psychological state of the patient, on the other hand the thought of being totally alone…

Prof. Kemal decides:
-I must set up a therapy group for these patients…
And he does…
But even that is not enough for Prof. Kemal…
This time he considers that other cancer patients also need psychological support, and decides that he has to do something for them too.
He sets up a separate therapy group for them.
In time he successfully combines the two groups.

For the past three years, cancer patients come together every Friday at the Cerrahpaşa Medical Faculty and share their experiences, fears, expectations, anything that they are unable to share with healthy people, in short, they share the screams which they have so far locked up in their hearts.
The tears they often shed in the dark after everyone else has gone to sleep, they can now shed in broad daylight amongst their friends who share the same fate…
And every Friday after the therapy session they leave the therapy room with a feeling of warm friendship and sharing, with less troubled hearts and a big smile…

The only condition to join the group is to write letters…
Yes, you heard correctly…
In Turkey the fee for a single psychiatric therapy session is between 150-300 TL per patient, but there is no fee of any kind required for joining Prof. Kemal’s group therapy…
The patients only have to write down what they have felt and lived through during that week and share this with the others in the group, and that is all they have to do.

And this week…
Yes, this week it will be somewhat different… This time we will come to the therapy session holding red carnations…
And once again with tears in our eyes…
We will commemorate our dear friend Emriye, who for the past three years always set on a chair in the same corner of the therapy room, adjacent to the wall.
A beautiful friend who in spite of everything never lost her smile or the spark of love in her eyes, not even in her moments of despair…

Emriye departed from us the other day…
leaving us with pain in our hears and with her letters…
On Friday we will first put the red carnations on the chair of our dear friend, as if she were still there…
Amongst us, just beside us…
Then we will read out the letters she wrote…
-We will say, we love you and will never forget you…

(A short note: In life every feeling has a colour: hope, despair, friendship, hostility, love, anger, being in love, pain, sadness…
I believe, that the most beautiful colour is that of friendship. It does not matter whether you express it with a red rose or a red carnation…
As long as you don’t forget the colour of friendship and your friends…)
With love and friendship forever…

Sibel Kalaycı’s letter of 18 December 2006…

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