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The words that were left behind ~ Words Matter

words matterBug sits on the porch, head in her hands, staring at the ground.

“‘Unter . . .’Opper . . .”

I hear her say quietly with the same sing songy lilt I used to call the dogs when we first moved out here.

“‘Unter . . .’Opper . . .”

The words used to fill this house.

“‘Unter . . . ‘Opper . . .”

They were some of Mattias’ first words. Before baba, before nani, before puppy and chickie chickie.

Because day after day he sat on my hip as I stepped out on that porch and called, with a sing songy lilt to my voice,

“Hunter . . . Copper . . .”

And the dogs would come running.

It was the lilt I recognized when he first tried to call the dogs and gradually his speech became clear enough to understand their names.

“‘Unter . . . ‘Opper.”

But now Copper is buried at the end of the lilac hedge and Mattias is buried on the opposite corner of this square mile plot in the gridwork of country roads. They, too, have been called home.

“‘Unter . . . ‘Opper . . .”

There is so much in those little words. So full of what life was back then, and so full of the promise of what we thought life would be. The house, the land, the animals and a baby on my hip learning by seeing.

But now Bug sits on the porch, head in her hands, staring at the ground and calling out softly, to no one in particular,

“‘Unter . . . ‘Opper . . .”

And I sit down with a baby in my lap to join her.



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Words Matter ~ Breathing life into my soul

Less than a week after the funeral, I stood in the obstetrician’s office waiting for what was to come.

“How are you today?” the nurse asked cheerfully.

“Well . . ,”

I wanted to skip this part. I wanted to get through the examination without comment. I wanted to leave. I realized I should have maybe told the receptionist when I rescheduled the appointment exactly why I was rescheduling. But the words had sounded so empty. So careless.

“Oh, I am sorry I missed my appointment, but my son died. Can we reschedule?”

So I didn’t say anything. I just rescheduled. But that left me standing with a chipper nurse and me not knowing quite what to say.

“Honestly, not so good. We lost our son last weekend.”

A look of shock, hug, words of sympathy. Then my obstetrician was there.

“Life is for the living,” he said.

The first time I recounted that, I realized it sounded trite. The first time I talked to another grieving mother about things we wished people wouldn’t say, that made her list.

But he spent 45 minutes with me and the words were anything but trite.

“Life is for the living,” he said, “And you know where he is. Take comfort in that when you can.”

Tears were my only response.

“Don’t let anyone tell you to stop grieving. You can’t stop it anyway. It’s just part of it. But there will be times when you smile, times when you laugh. Hold on to those moments. They will help you get through. Hold on to those moments and know that you do his memory honor through laughter.”

The tears gave way to sobs as he struck at my heart. For I had smiled. I had even laughed, though it was hardly joy-filled. And both experiences had left me falling into the same nauseating abyss as when I reached for his hand and it wasn’t there.

“Hold onto joy and know that each of those moments is a precious gift and not a betrayal.”

I could scarcely answer through the tears. They’re threatening even now.

“Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.”

For into the midst of my sorrow, he had spoken hope and joy and life with words I so desperately needed to hear.



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Words Matter ~ Breaking the silence

Words MatterThere’s this lady I know . . . well, sort of. I’d hardly even call her an acquaintance, but we run into each other often enough that we talk about this and that. She’s married, hoping to buy a house, has a child — or is it two? Like I said, we don’t really know each other that well.

But then the accident happened.

I know she knows. I know she knows because of the awkward silence and the sideways glances. Sometimes the silence speaks louder than words. And while I gather children, put things back on shelves, buckle seat belts all I can think about is the silence.

It stings.

I hardly know this woman, and yet it stings. I hardly know this woman, and yet her silence can bring tears to my eyes. I hardly know this woman, and yet I wish she would say something — anything — to break the silence.

I think of all the things that I’ve been told. The words that I’ve clung to and the words that I’ve had to look past. So many different words, but all intended to express compassion, to share in my grief if only for a moment.

But the silence grates on me. And I’m not even sure I know her name.


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Words Matter ~ a group writing project

It all started with a conversation on Facebook. A small thank you note, really, for an entry someone I have never met wrote about our family. Her response took me a little off guard.

“Gosh…you mean I MATTERED?”

And that got me thinking about all the notes and cards and emails we’ve received. So many start with, “I don’t know what to say . . I wish I had the words. . .I know nothing I say can help. . .” But they do.  I read them. Late at night, when I go in his room and he isn’t there with his knees tucked under him and that little tush in the air, I read them again. And Saturday nights, when my thoughts start racing and it seems like all the world is crashing in, I read them yet again.  Sometimes it is specific words and sometimes it is the volume of responses, but they are not lost on us and they are all so very appreciated.

Words matter. Every day we have the opportunity to speak thousands of words into the lives of those we love: children, spouses, parents, friends and even strangers we run into on the street. Every day, thousands of words are spoken into our lives. Sometimes they build up and sometimes they tear down, but always they matter.

So with that in mind, I decided to start my own little monthly writing project: Words Matter. On the second Wednesday of every month, I’ll put up a post about words and how they have impacted our life and I will include a linky for anyone who wants to participate. I’ll leave it open for a month so you can join in any time.

So start thinking about words — the ones which heal, the ones which hurt and the ones you wish had been said — and come back Wednesday to join in the discussion on just how much they matter.

I even made a nice little graphic for anyone to use, but WordPress keeps converting the code on me when I try to put it in a post. The code in the sidebar appears to be working, but if you have difficulties, let me know and I’ll email the code or walk you how to include it on your blog.