What do you say to a person grappling with her deepest, darkest personal pain?
I typically don't write about other people on this blog - it's a place where I prefer to expose my weaknesses and celebrate my triumphs for all who care to read. Today, though, I'm consumed with another person's burden of grief and heartache.
The latest Sunday paper featured a poignant newspaper column by one of my coworkers about the tender devastation of her son's stillbirth.
As a single, 30-year-old woman, I have no way to identify with the magnitude of that crossroads. Granted, I cried (twice) after reading her piece, but I dare say there's no such experience I have in my rocky past to compare with this tragedy.
I have my own moments of challenge, the most significant being the period when my father (and our entire family) coped and recovered from a benign brain tumor the size of a plum. The messy mass of nerves clung to the rear of his brain - just centimeters from my dad's brain stem.
The prospect of losing a parent can rattle your very perspective on the world. You quickly realize your heroes are not immortal. You discover you may soon be called up to duty to serve as the caregiver, not the cared for. You assume the responsibility that comes with rapid maturity.
Parents are supposed to precede us in death. That's the natural order of things and so a dying or aging parent isn't a real surprise, no matter how painful an experience that is.
But saying goodbye to a child - no matter how young - that's a tough pill to swallow.
And so I don't really know what to say after reading about my co-worker's piece.
Perhaps a prayer is the best, silent offering I can give.