I stood in the line of family and friends, making small-talk and inching slowly forward. When my moment came, I hugged her.
“I am so sorry,” I said. “I have no words to express what I’m feeling right now.”
She nods, smiles fleetingly, and swallows hard. The line presses in behind me and I move on.
Despite the hollow feeling that the “no words” line was hardly sufficient to mark the end of a life, I walked away feeling that the world is perhaps grateful for my occasional silence. Sometimes, finding no words is a blessing.
Just last night I was in a meeting designed to allow people to share their thoughts and feeling. I appreciated so much those words that were shared. I needed the encouragement and the hope. But I also appreciated those in that circle who simply said, “Thanks, but I just need to listen tonight.”
Today, as I think about friends whose lives are anything but peaceful, I wonder if they might be blessed only with presence. And, if so, what ends I might employ to simply be there.
Words can be soothing. Words can be instructive. Words can be life-saving. But being there drowns out all words.