"We'll watch the soccer game with you and then afterward we'll go out to dinner with our husb..." Her words stopped short. We felt their weight as soon as the sound escaped her lips. And awkward silence filled the car. Husbands. She was going to say, husbands. We all knew it; we heard it coming. Except, her husband wasn't here any longer. She had been widowed for a few months now and was still adjusting to her new role. Alone.
The discomfort was palpable.
What do you say when you don't know what to say?
Do you avert your eyes and look away? Pretend you really didn't know what was coming next? Do you give an easy out and change the subject, interject with a quick life preserver that numbs the awkward for everyone involved?
I couldn't pretend I didn't see that momentary flash of recognition and pain in her eyes, her own surprise at the still raw wounds she is learning to guard so carefully.
Sure I could ignore it, but the hurting aren't afforded that opportunity. They don't get to pretend any of it away.
And so I leaned in gently and carefully said, "Sometimes the words still fall out that way, don't they?"
"Yes," she almost whispered. "Yes, they do."
And we made our way through a delicate grace-filled conversation about where she was right now, what being alone felt like, how life has changed her routines, her words. It was a gift to go there with her, not because I said anything perfect or brilliant, but because I willing to see her pain, look her in the eye, even when I didn’t know what to say.