Tuesday, April 17, 2007

At a loss for words

As chatty as I can be, sometimes I am practically left speechless. That was the case today, when I found out a friend has been diagnosed with a potentially fatal disease. My friend's phone call to convey the news stunned me; here I was, driving on a rain-slick highway in Austin, when my friend's relatively calm voice came through the cell phone, informing me of this tragic turn of events.

In situations like this, it's hard to figure out precisely what to say. Of course, I expressed how sorry I was to learn of this life-altering occurrence. I offered support. But I also struggled to come up with the "right" things to say. At one point, I told my friend: "I will be in your thoughts." What I meant to say was this: "You will be in my thoughts." The proper words simply escaped me.

A similar circumstance befell someone I know who has a relative who's coping with several medical maladies. "I cannot think of one thing to say ... that would make a difference," the healthier relative said.

No one hands you a manual to instruct you on how to respond in such cases. Maybe one should be written. But how do you fill a book with words that are so hard to come by? Perhaps "I love you" and "I care about you" and "I'm here for you" and "I'm sorry" are about the only words we need at are disposal when we're grasping for language to help ease this kind of pain.

1 comment:

Steve Harper said...

Sometimes it isn't the words that are needed but the warm embrace of a hug to reassure those who need us.

Great reminder!

Ripple On!!!

Steve Harper