When Words Fail

Sometimes, there are just no words.  None.  Or there ARE words, but saying them will knowingly do no good.  Thus, they are better left unsaid.  Silence might be golden, but not when I’m desperate to reconnect to my child, or a loved one. There is a time for silence, just not now.

As a harpist, sometimes music was my voice when words failed me in my life.  My dad was once really angry at me but never the less, he attended one of my concerts at Christmas.  We never again discussed what had kept us apart (and frankly now, I can’t remember what the argument was about), rather, he smiled at me from the audience and I knew we were good again.

Cooking sometimes was my way of reconnecting with my disgruntled teenagers.  There was something rather poetic, both parent and child, armed with knives, chopping vegetables and playing with heat that provided an unspoken truce when nothing else could.  We were like two superpowers with weapons, once on opposing sides now working for the common good of dinner.  Of course, it didn’t always work, but more often than not, cooking made peace.

This week, I see my grandmother, about to approach a landmark birthday (I good woman never reveals her age and in this case, neither do her grandchildren).  Once an orphan during WWII, she watches the news about the world and about Paris and she admits that it feels like she is reliving the Nazi invasion all over again.  For her, house lock down, shootings in the street and dead bodies outside some cafes of Paris bring back a past I can see she had hoped to forget.  And as I speak to her on the phone, there are no words.

I’m at a loss.  This time, no amount of whisking or peeling or wine will dispel the fear in her voice.  No music will soothe her.  It is my sincere hope that those who do have the power to do, or say or decide in this global situation will find the words the rest of us seem to have misplaced.  My plea to those in power is to do right not just for the refugee children sleeping outside in the cold or the survivors of many countries left to grieve the loss of their partners or children but also for the ones who have seen death in the streets before. Survivors of WWII know what can happen when the evils of this world successfully divide us as a world and we fail to come together to work towards justice.

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