Sunday, August 23, 2009
There Are No Words
There have been many times since Phil's death that words have escaped me. When asked how I was in the early days my answer was often a dumbfounded stare. What words could be used to describe the pain that was ripping through my body at that moment? A client of mine once asked, "Do you just miss him like crazy?" I was so relieved to be asked a question that required nothing more than an emphatic yes. As my friends and family plied me with love and compassion, I searched for the words to thank them. Which word, in what language, could adequately convey the gratitude that swelled in my heart with each act of kindness received? So often I found myself uttering the phrase...there are no words.
As time marches on, I continue to find myself in situations where I struggle to find the right sequence of letters to capture a moment. While holding my crying daughter as she tells me how much she misses Phil, I search for words that will soothe her and at the same time acknowledge the enormity of our loss. Many times I sit in front of a blank computer screen wondering how to comfort a new widow who has reached out to me, especially knowing that she has not yet experienced the most difficult part of this gut wrenching journey. At a meeting a few months ago I was told that I should not be comparing my experience as a widow to the widowhood journey of women in India because their loss is truly tragic. Hmmm. There were definitely no words.
It has been said that a picture is worth a thousand words. If taking a photo of a person's heart were possible I wonder what mine would have looked like on August 31, 2005. Perhaps being able to show a photo of the devastation that began on that day would have saved me the search for words that has haunted me since. Another benefit of this kind of photography would be having the ability to evaluate the healing process; we could watch scars form, know where the deepest gashes were located, marvel at the new form this organ was taking as healing happens bit by bit. Would a piece of paper with an actual image be proof positive that hearts really do break? If we could show someone the extent of our loss would people stop expecting us to be finished grieving on a certain date?
Without the concrete proof that a photo would provide, we are left with the ellusive, but extremely powerful, gift of words for detailing our journey through shock, devastation, discovery, courage, hope, and redemption. Somehow I think that even the thousand words a photo might provide would not be an adequate descriptor of the widowhood experience. If we looked at a picture of our before and after hearts, I suspect there would be no words to describe the amazing transformation.