In the midst of beach vacations and late-night parties, sorrow seeps into happy occasions and my mind worries on the recent string of life-changing events. Just one is devastating enough but this time they come in a clutch, one tragic turn after the next: a young girl raped, a teenager killed, a trio of youngsters taken in a fire, mothers mourning, fathers angry.
In this conflicted season, I am out of words that will assuage events that make no sense, that break rules and wreck lives. And so my mind can only pick words from stilted air, settle on sounds that will describe what my spirit is too heavy too hold.
Words rise, not in a string of sense but in single sounds: tragic, inconsolable, broken. I’m collecting words and applying them like a balm, a gentle rub to every aching thought.
It’s not the direct hit that hurts but the inability to make things better for those I love.
Once, when I was distraught with slow change and my powerlessness to do anything of immediate value, a friend offered a simple solution: Be present, she said.
It seemed so simple. Too simple. But it was the best and most I could offer. I was present. I showed up. I paid attention. It showed dedication and interest. And it worked. And soon, being present turned into being useful.
I don’t know what to do now with the grief that consumes my family and friends, my heart. I’m standing here, waiting for words and action to rise again.