A Week Without Words

Darn these words! They’re so inadequate. What do you write when 20 children die? When teachers are killed in the line of duty? When parents and siblings grieve together?

As news from Connecticut unfolds, we’re numb. One tearful woman summed it up for others: “I’m speechless. I’m speechless. I just can’t speak.”


For those of us who write and casually turn a phrase, this is a rude awakening. Like many, we grasp at verbal straws. Feeling inept, we grow still… our hearts ache. We try to unravel the events as we would a plot, but we are left with too many loose ends.

The characters aren’t clear. They wear many hats, serve many roles. They’re people we’ve never met, and yet they are familiar.

We try to articulate the groundswell of emotion, but can’t possibly express the magnitude.

The best I could do was Tweet an observation: “Sadness falls this season instead of snow…” and thankfully, someone Retweeted my post which seemed to dilute the sorrow by sharing the pain.

Living miles away, the impact is lessened, but it’s all too easy to replace those innocent faces with children we know, children we love, children who have had a chance to grow and experience life as they should. What if…

Darn these words! They’re useless!  They can’t resurrect the dead, can barely comfort the living… and yet we search desperately for the right ones.

“Understanding” hardly expresses the gut-wrenching nausea we feel. “Empathy” seems like an empty offer. We sit glued to television, tablet, and computer screens as details surface, asking how this could happen and why.

Tears spill. We hug our children tighter. Candles in Newtowns all over the country pay tribute to those lost and kindle a spark of hope for humanity.

Perhaps this is a week best left without words. Perhaps this is a Silent Night.

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