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March 21, 2008
Telling people about a death quickly becomes liturgical -- you find yourself using the same phrases, choosing the same words, over and over, as if telling a favorite story to a child. "I had just come up to check on her," you tell the tenth person who asks, "and there she was, in exactly the same position as before, her handkerchief in her hand."

You tell it the same way, over and over -- "...her handkerchief in her hand," you say. "I had just come up to check." "I had just come up to check." "And there she was." "And there she was." It begins to sound like a refrain.

"He was on his way back from camping and was asleep in the back of the truck," you say. "He was on his way back....on his way back...on his way back," you tell person after person, in just the same way.

"They were on the airport road and an abandoned car on the side of the road exploded," you say, and then you say it again and again, every time you tell. "They were on the airport road." "They were on the airport road."

The very disbelief that compels you to tell and retell the story dissolves in the repetitive familiarity of the words you use. It drains away all the horror you want and need to express. We hear it again today, on this Friday so mysteriously called Good, the shock of loss hollowed of its horror by the familiarity of its telling and retelling.

Words fail us quickly at these times.
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