Tuesday, October 20, 2009

When There Are No Words

word, noun, a single distinct meaningful element of speech or writing, used with others to form a sentence and typically shown with a space on either side when written or printed.

My sister Whitney and I play this movie-quote game. We've played it for as long as I remember. I'm pretty sure it started out in the way back of our station wagon on long drives from Massachusetts down to Virginia when we were young. It's easy. You say a quote, the other person names the movie.

-"Clarese, your hair...YOU'RE HERE!"
-It Takes Two

Sometimes we even stump ourselves, and I've been stuck on this particular one for ages. All I know is that Melanie Lynskey says the line, "sometimes life's just hard, for no reason at all." I can hear the twang of her southern accent, the way the sounds of each word glide in to one another smoothly. I can almost see her in some creaky rocking chair on a porch, or in some abandoned field. (I'm suddenly wondering, is it Man in the Moon?) But I can't, for the life of me, pinpoint the movie that it's from.

It gets to me, and leaves me wondering because I find myself repeating it when times are tough. When I get completley blindedsided on a boring Tuesday--the collision of something so tragic, so difficult with the simplicity of a quiet afternoon. Finding out your grandmother has cancer when you're painting your toenails. A phone call on your lesiurely lunch hour from your mother who's hysterically crying. Whether I'm comforting myself or someone else, I just chant that to myself. "Sometimes life's hard, for no reason at all."

I can't directly address my mother losing her mother. I don't know how to grasp that with words, even if I try my hardest and read all of the case studies she emails to me. Not even after all the times she's cried to me. I sit next to her in the car and hear her say, "I don't know what I'll do when she's gone," and all I can do is reach out and touch her hand. I can't change David's face--twisted with worry--and convince him that Amelia will be fine with a line. Even with that line. I say it, then watch it fall flat on its face. Splat! Right onto the ground before me. It's my own mental therapy, but I'm still not getting anywhere, despite it's truth.

Sometime's life IS hard for absolutely NO reason. Whatsoever. You make a plan--a nice one, a thoughtful one--to surprise the person you love, and then watch it crumble to bits. You find out you need four new tires on the same day all of your loan payments are due. You make a promise to someone--something that really means a lot--and you can't follow through with it. Perfectly fine people pass away in their sleep. It rains on the one day you need sunshine. Ticks creep from blades of grass onto a human body and bite.

But it makes no difference how trivial some things may seem to you. "Hard" is in the eye of the beholder. And whether he or she chooses to roll with it or wallow in it, you have to be there with your mental chanting, your hugs and your words--even if you hate the sound they make as they leave your mouth. I'm learning to stop beating myself up for this inadequacy. Sure, there are those with a gift of comforting others, having "the right words" to say, but that doesn't mean they can quell every fear, soothe every ache that stings deep down. There is always a private pain that you take with you into the shower, that you wear even after stripping off all of your clothing that no one can touch. And when someone you love is going through that, you make your own effort. You step outside of your own reach and find the strength to be there. To plug in the empty holes, to provide support where strength is wavering. And when your own resources are drained and you have nothing left, you pray God will give you the substance to hold on.

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