She wrote: Tell me something, please! But I could not answer then. And I told her so. And later, when I could, I answered:

I've returned. While driving there and back I thought about you. I thought about how sad things are for you and your family. I remembered your desperate letters, how urgently you wanted to get away, to be somewhere else, to escape the sadness and pain and fear you are feeling. I tried to picture you sitting there wanting more than anything that your brother would open his eyes and speak, praying hard that he would open his eyes and say hello or just look at you with recognition and love. I thought about you looking into the faces of your parents and seeing their fear and heartbreak. I thought about how hard it must be for them, how impossible it must be for them, how helpless they must feel, how impotent at a time when their desire for potency must rage. I understood your desire to run, to be somewhere else, anywhere else but where you were.

And I felt sad and helpless. I felt alone, too. I felt bad that I couldn't take it all away and make it better nor even be there to offer comfort. I felt inadequate and confused. I felt frustrated and angry. I tried and could not come up with any explanation, any excuse, any reason for this tragedy and pain to be happening to your brother, to you, to your mother and father. It seemed so totally unfair. Wrong and senseless.

I came home and knew that I had to sit down and write to you. I didn't know what to say, how to begin. I had no words in mind to say because all words seemed so empty and I was filled with such negative feelings, and I didn't want to send you those.

But I overcame my reluctance, my desire to avoid and turn away. I began to write you anyway, and as I'm writing I feel softer now, less angry. Rather than attempting to solve this tragedy in your life or to find the perfect words to say to you, I can only share with you your pain and emptiness. And when I do that, when I place you in front of me and think about you and your brother and your family, when in my own clumsy and inadequate way, I try to join with you, I feel better. I don't know why. I just do.

And so, my friend, this is all I have to offer: I can only receive your letters and respond to them as best I can. And while sometimes it seems so hard to answer you because I am so afraid of saying the wrong thing or of disappointing you when you need me, or of angering you with some insensitivity, in the end I always try to do the best I can. I compel myself to overcome any resistance I might feel to entering your fear and sadness and despair so that even in my inadequacy I can be there for you in your time of need.

So it is. In this painful, desperate, lonely, frightening time, as much as you and I may want to run away or simply turn our face from the ugliness in front of us, in the end we don't. Because to do so would be a betrayal of ourselves and of those we love.

To turn or run away would be to let our fear and inadequacy cause us to divorce those we care about — you from your family; me from you. Such betrayal would be a denial of our life, a denial of our strength and ability to face our life — all of our life, the good and bad of our life — full-heartedly, bravely, courageously.

With courage we must take our fear, confusion, anger and sadness with us as we simply do the best we can and offer the best of who we are to those we care about, knowing throughout that what we offer is not enough, that we cannot work the miracles that need working, that our only choice is to be with what is happening now and let the future go. To fill the now with love and leave the rest to G‑d.