when words are too much

image courtesy of too many tabs


I was about half-way through a five-mile run when I heard the crash.  I turned the corner to see a lifeless body in the road, a motorcycle off to the side, and a red Jeep Cherokee pulling over towards the curb.  The next few minutes were busy — a lot happened fast — and I think I remember most of it.  But the happenings of this day are not my point in writing.  Suffice it to say that another guy and I performed CPR, and when the ambulance arrived there was a faint heartbeat but no breathing.  

Our university’s goalkeeper died at the hospital a few hours later.  [My position, oddly enough.]

I hadn’t known he was a Lipscomb student.  I was new at school — transferred in as a junior only a few weeks before — and was still trying to convince myself it was a good decision when all this happened.

I had nightmares for the first few nights.  I couldn’t close my eyes without seeing his face staring blankly back at me.  The next week we had a devotional in the courtyard, and Chris’s friends led us in song and prayer.  I went off to the side to sit down, and leaned against a tree.

A girl (I’d maybe met once) approached.  She sat down next to me and confessed that she didn’t know what to say.  But she put her arm around me, sat quietly, and let me cry for a few minutes.  Then she got up and walked away.

Her response was perfect.  I didn’t need someone to tell me it wasn’t my fault, or that Chris was better off, or that “all things work together for good for those who love the Lord….”  I just needed someone to be there.  That’s it.

Words are so very often overrated.

 [Oh, and I’m not sure I ever told Natalie Montgomery thanks.  Thank you, Natalie.  Your small gesture meant a great deal to me.]

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15 Comments

Filed under just thinking

15 responses to “when words are too much

  1. Andrew Hill

    Thanks! (That should be words enough? But really, I appreciate your writing and sharing your life’s experiences.)

  2. Great post and very true. Thanks.

  3. Brett, that’s terrible! I read in a book recently about a boy whose neighbor lost his wife after many years of marriage. The old man was sitting on his front porch crying. The little boy crawled into his lap and sat there for a while and then went home. His mother asked, “What did you say to him?”
    “Nothing. I helped him cry.”
    What the girl did was perfect. That helps me know what to do.

  4. JMF

    I, too, remember this story vividly, Brett. I didn’t know of your involvement; I had heard the events told by the (other guy) that performed CPR.

    That was a sad day. Although I wasn’t friends with Chris, he had an energy that made him very recognizable. Crazy to think that that was 14 years ago.

  5. sometimes when I don’t know what to say maybe that’s a sign.

  6. So true, Brett. Thanks.

  7. Before they opened their mouths, Job’s “friends” actually helped by their presence. Thanks for reminding us of the power of presence.

  8. Daniel

    That Natalie Montgomery was a pretty cool chick.

  9. I love this. Grief is usually so individual and cannot be pushed. Sometimes I have nothing to say and just offer a hug. That’s more than enough. Thanks for this.

  10. Sometimes I try to shard to find the right words to convey that I care. You’ve given me permission to just BE there and offer a hug. Thanks. Larry sent me here, and I’m happy he did. 🙂

    • i am also glad larry sent you my way. thanks, keri, for the kind words. in this instance they conveyed well your sentiment. [it’s hard to just be there and offer a hug in a blog comment…]

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