The right words

For someone who spends her days buried in books and writing, I pride myself on having “the right words.” Need help choosing an obscure adjective? No problem. Have a quandary regarding syntax or punctuation? I got you. Editing is a point of pride, and I love nothing more than sitting down to craft the perfect sentence.

But sometimes, there are no words. No words that I know.

A good friend’s brother-in-law was killed in a sudden, senseless and violent act this weekend in Philadelphia. Since we learned of his passing on Sunday, my head has felt fuzzy. Kevin seemed like such a wonderful, funny and caring man. He was my partner in her wedding party just four months ago; I can still feel the solidness of his arm when I placed my hand in the crook of his elbow. He was 23.

After a long and hard-fought battle, my great uncle is entering the final stages of cancer. A bright and caring man with an illustrious history, my grandfather’s little brother means so much to our family. Up until recently, I always thought Something Would Happen. Modern medicine would pull through after all. But I know some things cannot be healed. We’re going to see him today.

I don’t have the right words for these occasions. I feel so sad about Kevin; I feel so sad about Uncle Phil. I feel sad about each in their own, distinct way, and grief is a strange and funny beast. We have long days yet to come, I know, and I’m bracing myself for them. But it’s hard to know how to react. Or how to think or feel.

I don’t have the right words for my dear, dear friend. My heart breaks for Kevin, for Erin, for her husband’s family. If you have a moment today to think a good thought, please send it to them. I’m sending everything my own tender heart can muster.

And I know it’s not about “the right words.” Writing Erin after hearing that news was a terrible, terrible thing. I don’t have the right words for my uncle, for my own family — but sometimes, I think, it’s not about words. It’s about presence. It must be about showing love by showing up.

I can show up.

I will show up.


If anyone has any information that may help find Kevin Kless’ killers in Philadelphia, please step forward. A reward of more than $15,000 is now being offered for any information that could lead to bringing justice for his grieving family. I can’t express how surreal it is to see Kevin’s face on ABC News, but I hope the exposure drives home to someone out there how important it is to come forward. If you were in or around Philadelphia and might have been at or near the scene in the wee hours of Saturday morning, please speak to detectives. It only takes one small tip — however insignificant it may seem to you — to help solve this case. Thank you.

27 thoughts on “The right words

  1. You are so right. So many people don’t say or do anything because they’re afraid they won’t be the right words or right actions but the words don’t really matter – the love does.


  2. I am so sorry for the loss of your friend Kevin, and his family. Your words are very true and kind and I think most of us find ourselves at a loss when we are grieving. Being there is the best, showing up, holding a hand, bringing food, whatever small kindness you can show, will be remembered. Take care of yourself Meg.


  3. I am so sorry you are going through so much at one time. That’s terrible!

    I know that I never say the right things, but I still at least make the effort and show up. It seems to be enough.


  4. Just by being there, that is enough. I’ve had friends who have had horrible things happen to them. HORRIBLE! And no matter how stupid I feel because I can’t find what I think are the right words, I say something. Just that I’m thinking about them. That I am here for them. And what they always tell me later is that so many people say or do nothing, not because they don’t care but because they don’t know what to say. And they admit that this kind of non-action hurts the worst. I will pray for you and your friends and family to get through this. So hard.


  5. I am so sorry, Meg…sometimes there are no right words…there is just being there…and you are doing that…we have been following that story since we are so near Philadelphia…and it’s awful and sad and senseless and everything that is not good about people.


  6. You nailed it. Sometimes no words is better than the wrong words and there is no right words. Presence is what counts and what a person remembers. Presence and saying, “Please let me know if I can do anything to help.”

    I find that and praying God sends them strength is the best way.

    Beautiful post darling.

    I am so sorry about your uncle. *hug*


  7. Thank you all for the kind words — I really, really appreciate it. Keep sending good thoughts and pray someone comes forward to bring justice for the Kless family.


  8. I am so sorry to hear of your tragic loss. As someone with experience recovering from a violent incident, I can tell you words are not the greatest need, it is being there. Not only now, but for the road ahead. As an avid reader, I would recommend that you read about trauma recovery–the family will need that as they process. May God’s peace and comfort be tangible in your midst.


  9. I used to try my best to say the right things but it never sounds right, just being there though, as you say, is what matters.

    Sorry to hear this, Meg, I’ll keep you all in my thoughts.


  10. Oh, Meg, I am so sorry. You’re right about words not being what’s needed at times like this. Our presence, our love, our showing up – these say far more than words can. My heart is with you and your friends and family.


  11. Meg, sometimes even words can’t heal the hurt. This is just an unspeakable tragedy.

    And I’m also so sorry about your uncle. I have so many friends and family undergoing cancer treatments right now. It is a horrible disease.

    Prayers for peace to all concerned.


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