Tuesday, December 09, 2014

Words are inadequate

I have had company.  Old old friends from Dietrich Teaching days.  Or as I am now fond of saying.... "latter days of the last century."  Paul was complaining that he forgets some words, they are stuck in the recesses of his mind and won't present themselves when commanded.  I can completely relate. The words dribble out and slowly make themselves known. Words often fail us.  

I have had a rash of word failure/ inadequacy recently. I will read somethings, hear something, ask something and be told something and then be unable to find the words.

After several decades, I have come to realize our language does not have adequate words to comfort those in sorrow, grief, despair.  The time we need words the most.  We are like desert dwellers at the North Pole.  We don't have the vocabulary for snow.  

tlapa           powder snow
tlacringit      snow that is crusted on the surface 
kayi            drifting snow
tlapat          still snow
klin            remembered snow
naklin          forgotten snow
tlamo           snow that falls in large wet flakes 
tlatim          snow that falls in small flakes 
tlaslo          snow that falls slowly
tlapinti        snow that falls quickly
kripya          snow that has melted and refrozen
tliyel          snow that has been marked by wolves 
tliyelin        snow that has been marked by Eskimos 
blotla          blowing snow
pactla          snow that has been packed down 
hiryla          snow in beards
wa-ter          melted snow
tlayinq         snow mixed with mud
quinaya         snow mixed with Husky shit
quinyaya        snow mixed with the shit of a lead dog
slimtla         snow that is crusted on top but soft underneath
kriplyana       snow that looks blue in the early morning 
puntla          a mouthful of snow because you fibbed
allatla         baked snow
fritla          fried snow
gristla         deep fried snow
MacTla          snow burgers

So.... when a child is sick or dies or is dying or is suffering what do we say...
"You are in our prayers"
"We know how your feel"
"Everything happens for a reason"
"We are holding you in our thoughts"
"How can we help?"
"What do you need?"

Grief is such a basic part of life. How can we
 not have more words?  
I want something more. I want to have a 
lexicon of words as descriptive as "hamburger snow".  I want sounds that can come forth 
from my being with language of words that 
can explain the sinking empty feeling a mom has when she realizes she will never ever hug her child again.  That her child will never be 
to dance at a recital or sit on Santa's lap or 
step into warm ocean water again.  A child will never go on a date or a ride a bike.  

What words do we use for a parent that
knows the end is short.  The words they are
 "End of life care", "Hospice".  

It has been a couple of weeks where I need a dictionary the size of the Oxford English 
Dictionary full of words of comfort. I am very 
frustrated, and just plain sad that I don't have the words or acts or deed. 

 I have also come to realize that if there were words or deeds I would have figured them 
out. I don't think there is a secret society that works on this. I don't believe there is a special pass word or some clandestine group
meeting and taking away the words.  We are
so limited in our acknowledgement of the
 need for a detailed list or words and phrases that they don't exist.  

Instead of 101 Uses For A Dead Cat  I want 
101 Practical and comforting thing to do for
 someone in need. 

Hummmm who knows how to self publish on Amazon. 

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