Thursday, March 10, 2011
I Grieve with You
I bought a lovely card with a photo of flower on the front so I could write something in the way of condolences.
Not those the "Sympathy" cards you see in the store with their canned, insipid sentiments that attempt to save you the trouble of figuring out what to say. Loss of this magnitude is intense, personal, wrenching. Those cards never say the right thing.
But there is no right thing. As I struggle for an hour to find the right words, the ones that say "I'm sorry" and "he was a fine man" but don't tell her how to feel and don't pretend that it's all right, I find myself wishing for the pre-worded card to save me this agony.
Finally I finish. More like I run out of ways to say "condolences". Com -- "with" and "dolere "to grieve." "I grieve with you."
At the post office I hold an envelope containing carefully handwritten and heartfelt words, oh so inadequate. The envelope feels too light and insubstantial to carry this message.
There is no way to carry this message. I could send a ton of flowers, and I could cry for a week, and it would still be just as inadequate.
As I drop the envelope in the box, I am struck by a sense of futility, frustration, and sadness. The life of a man cannot be summed up, not by a book, not by a movie, and certainly not by a sympathy card.
There is no summation. There is only goodbye.