You can ask me anything you wish and I’ll probably give you an answer. Whether it’s the truth is another matter.
There’s one question that I hate to hear and hate answering.
”How’s your daughter?” or any variation thereof, like “How is Penney?” or “What’s Penney up to these days?”
The question doesn’t come up as often as it used to. In a few short days we will reluctantly mark the 10th anniversary of her death. But someone asked the other day and I reduced her to tears as I answered.
I was standing at the hostess station in a local restaurant when she came through the door. I recognized her immediately—the mother of one my daughter’s youth softball teammates—but I could not have told you her or her daughter’s name.
She looked at me with the same flicker of recognition and when I offered up the connection, she said, “My daughter is 35 years old. That was so long ago! How do you remember that?”
We exchanged our first names and daughter’s names. We smiled as we remembered each other’s girls. She told me that her daughter launched a successful career, has three-year old twin boys and just bought a house in a neighboring town. I was happy to hear all that wonderful news.
Then she asked about Penney and I made her cry.
It gets harder to tell Penney’s story the more time goes by. It seems harder for people to hear—they react as if they should have known and feel guilty for bringing up my painful past. I respect that many may never have heard. It gives me comfort to hear them remember her with glowing words and smiles, even smiles through tears.
Those of us who continue on as we miss someone appreciate when you talk about our loved ones. Tell us a story about them, share a memory. It helps us know that you remember and miss them too.
The fear our loved ones leave us with is that others will forget them. Help us know that you remember.