Such a Puny Word
Sorry is such a puny word, I remember thinking as I waited for Tully.
What words can I possibly use to convey my heartbreak, this bottomless sorrow? What words do I use to even describe what happened?
“Honey, a large bird swooped down from the sky and took our baby.” That’s preposterous. It sounds like a really bad lie in a cover-up story.
“Really, Lin? A bird? Couldn’t you come up with something better than that? It’s an original and incontrovertible defense, but it utterly lacks plausibility.”
How do I tell the untellable?
Tulli had removed his straps and buckles and waved to me. “Lin! You’ve got me worried!”
I ran toward Tulli and embraced him with such force the two of us nearly fell to the ground.
“Steady,” he said as he held me up. Though he was so much older and frail than me, he supported my weight with considerable solidity.
I burrowed my face on his shoulder and tried unsuccessfully to allay another torrent of tears. I sobbed in his arms, those big sobs that make one’s whole body shake. Tulli stood with me silently, patiently, holding me steady like a pillar of strength.
“Thank you, Tulli,” I finally managed to say. The words were garbled by my tears, but he knew my meaning.
“I’m always here for you, sweetheart,” he said gently. “I’m always here for you.”
Just as I needed it — suddenly, magically — a soft cloth tissue was placed into one of my hands. “Thank you,” I mumbled. I brought the tissue to my face and cried silently into it before wiping the tears away. I took a deep breath and resolved to calm myself again.
“Shall we sit,” he asked, pointing to patch of groile on the ground, “or would you like to go inside?”
“Let’s sit,” I said.
“That’s the problem.”
“She’s not here?”
“Where is she?”
“A malmagni…,” I choked on the word.
“A malmagni? What does that have —”
“She was here sleeping. A malmagni picked her up and flew into the clouds.” I pointed to the northeast. “There.”
“Oh, dear. Oh, my dear.” Tulli was silent for a moment and reached for my hand.
“She’s gone, Tulli. She’s… is she…? Do you think she’s… do you think she’s dead, Tulli?”
I looked at him imploringly. My aching mind begged for him to matter-of-factly offer, with certainty and confidence, a benedictory prognosis: “These are harmless birds, Lin. I’m sure Erin has been left alive on some rock abutment or hilltop. Our only challenge is to find her.”
But that’s not what he said.