No, I can’t say that. That sounds so cliché.
No, that sounds like something from a Hallmark card.
No, that’s too upbeat … maybe she’ll think I’m making light of her pain.
No. No. No!
I hate being at a loss for words.
As a writer, I spend a great deal of time thinking about words. I love finding the perfect word to describe a thought. A feeling. A setting. On the other hand, there’s nothing worse than wracking my brain and fumbling to find words. That’s when I dig out every writer’s best friend: a handy little thesaurus. But every thesaurus in the world couldn’t give me the perfect words to help my hurting friend.
I hugged her and whispered those two worn-out words everyone says. “I’m sorry.” Then I told her I’d been thinking of her. And I’d be praying for her. I know there’s power in prayer, but as I looked into her eyes, my words felt inadequate.
A couple weeks later, I saw another friend who’s been going through her own serious struggles. Connie has a brain tumor. It has changed her looks. And it has changed how she speaks.
Connie was always so quick-witted and proficient with words. She wrote beautifully. But her words don’t come easily anymore. Even within a few minutes of small talk, I could sense her frustration. As if, the words are there, but they’re just beyond reach.
Suddenly her expression grew serious. “I’ve been thinking about you, Sheri. How are you?”
I shook my head and smiled. Unbelievable, I thought. With everything she’s been through – and she was thinking about me.
I told her I was doing well, but a little nervous about an upcoming MRI.
I’ve had an MRI every year since I was diagnosed with MS. One year I had a reaction to the contrast dye. The technician gave me a shot in the arm, slid me into the machine and walked out of the room. Suddenly, my stomach rolled and my mouth watered, signaling to me that I needed a bucket – now. I called for help and prayed she’d get me out of that machine in time.
But I wasn’t just nervous about throwing up. I was also nervous about the test results.
“When’s your appointment?” Connie asked.
“Monday at 1:00.”
She squeezed my arm. “I’ll be praying for you.”
On Monday I arrived at my appointment early. I filled out the paperwork and waited my turn. Suddenly, my phone buzzed.
Connie hadn’t said a word, but I knew ... she was thinking and praying for me at that moment. It meant more to me than any eloquent words she could ever speak.
As the technician slid me into the MRI machine, I thought of my friend who had lost her husband. Maybe it was okay that I never found the right words. Maybe it’s impossible to wrap messy emotions into a neat little package. Maybe sometimes, there really are no words.