I spent most of yesterday and today in Austin with Katy. I was worried as I drove down there that I wouldn’t have the right words to comfort her. I can’t even imagine what I would want to hear if I lost one of my siblings. I tried to imagine it, just so I could be more sensitive to Katy’s needs, but I couldn’t. It’s a dark, dark place.
But I needn’t have worried. Some people have the gift of saying the right thing at the right time. Though I have an occasional glimmer of eloquence, it’s not my long suit. My long suit is cleaning. Doing the dishes and organizing closets. What Katy needed from me wasn’t words. She told me that as soon as she heard I was coming, she felt relieved because she knew that I would clean. She said that’s what she needed, so that’s what I did.
We took breaks to spend time with the other family and friends who have gathered around her to hold her up as she begins to walk through the grief that comes when you lose someone that you love. We laughed about Jordan stories while sorted through laundry piles. Then we cried in a restaurant as we ate our burgers. We mourned our collective loss as we sifted through a old pile of family pictures of an impossibly cute little boy.
But I never felt like I didn’t have the right thing to say. I didn’t have to say anything at all, really. I just had to be there, be with her, helping her with the things that she needed. Even if the thing that she needed was for me to scrub her dishes.