"What do you say?"
Since the tragic slaying of 20 children and six teachers in Newtown, Connecticut, I have heard that phrase in a variety of settings, all equally challenging.
What do you say?... To the loved ones of those who lost their lives.
What do you say?... To a grieving town.
What do you say?... To a nation left stunned in the wake of yet another act of mass murder.
What do you say?... To parents who have to send their kids off to school this week.
What do you say?... To teachers who have to face their kids in a place that they used to see as a safe-haven.
What do you say?... To politicians when the issue of gun control is brought into the spotlight yet again.
And what I have found after a few days of reflection is this - there are no words.
There is no explanation, no rhyme or reason, no wisdom that can mend a nation of broken hearts. Try as we may, our words, no matter how well-crafted or thoughtful, can only fall short of bringing back the lives that were lost on Friday.
But that doesn't mean that words can't be found, or that they are powerless in a time of crisis.
Political views aside, watching President Obama address a grieving town, reading the names one by one, his face riddled with emotion, made a statement - he's only human. He's a father too. He is grieving alongside those who put him into office. He left all that is going on in DC to offer what comfort he could. His words made a difference.
Thousands of letters have been sent to Newtown. Outside of the U.S., the world is grieving with us, and memorials are popping up across the globe. They cry for us, and speak of their own experiences of tragedy, explaining how they grew from loss. Their words make a difference.
In the shadow of tragedy, the NFL maintained its regularly-scheduled games on Sunday, with each team and player making their own statement about what occurred. Perhaps the most moving of these tributes was that of Victor Cruz, who called the family of a young victim and unwavering fan, Jack Pinto, to offer his condolences, and to show them that no one is unaffected by this loss. His words made a difference.
And now here I am - a daughter, a sister, a girlfriend, a granddaughter, an American, a blogger, a human being - and I must ask myself, what do I say?
I say I'm sorry. I say I'm devastated. I say that I wish the tears I've shed over this tragedy since it occurred could, in any way, ease your pain. I say that I, too, am left questioning this society in which I live.
But I also say that there is hope. I say that we have a responsibility as human beings, and as citizens of this country to act. To do something, anything that will prevent this senseless act from happening again. I say that we must protect our children. I say that I believe they are in a better place. And I say that I am with you, Newtown.
In a time when they are hard to find, there are words.