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As writers we all face the dreaded “writer’s block”. There are billions of words of advice that teach us how to find the perfect words for our masterpieces. What happens when we need the words for someone else?

Every week, every day there are stories of tragedy in the news and for most of us, they are so removed from our little corners of the world, we can sympathize and empathize, but by the time the ripples reach us, our waters barely move.

This week the ripples hit close to home. Two tragedies that garnered national attention touched family and friends and us.

Massive wildfires in the Texas Panhandle, fueled by drought and high winds claimed four lives – so far. Young lives of people doing heroic acts, attempting to recuse cattle and save homes. One young man is a face I’ve seen every Christmas, and every six months for many years. Though I never knew his name. He is the son-in-law of our family dentist.  We’ve been patients for years and heard grandchildren stories, noted the family photos around the office change as this new bride and groom grew their family and built a life that vanished in an instant.

Then there was the fatal accident in Biloxi when a bus became stuck on train tracks and three or four were killed (media reports differ) when the train was unable to stop in time. Two of the passengers were the parents of a women who is both family and friend. We were pregnant together with our daughters. LITERALLY, the girls were born a week apart. Our husbands are first cousins. We go to the same church. Her parents were fixtures at so many of our children’s milestone moments.

Where are my words?  I’m a writer. Surely in this well of imagination and emotion and wonderful words there is something I can say to give comfort beyond the inadequacy of “I’m sorry.” When the tragic loss is so sudden, the blow so quick I don’t know that there are words. Or, I don’t know that the order of the words matter.

Eloquence and a beautifully crafted condolence is wonderful if it’s true and real. But I think often the best we can say, with all the wonderful words we have at our fingertips is –

You are not alone

We grieve with you.

We grieve for you.

You are not alone.

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