One of the more difficult moments to surface when meeting new people after the death of a child is the inevitable conversational curveball. How many kids do you have, Kim? The first time it happened, my heart shattered just a little bit more.
Beat. T-t-two, I finally spew. Of course I have two. You cannot, after all, erase an individual’s entire life and why would you want to? But it’s hard and it’s inopportune and some days you just can’t do the story justice but still you tell it because it’s important to acknowledge that even though life is not even-handed, it is still worth living. Those of us who die out of order must be equally celebrated for having had the courage to stand in there and duke it out for the little time they were offered in comparison to the rest of us.
My experience with loss has changed my approach to introductions. What keeps you busy? has replaced questions about hearth and home. Do you hike? has become my preferred opening line. I take little for granted now. I know that everyone has a story and that sometimes the telling of it shouldn’t take place in the midst of small talk.
Within the context of her job as a brain injury therapist, my daughter used to talk about the importance of being able to put yourself into the shoes of others. I do that more often now, and with greater intention. It’s a tough way to learn a lesson but it reminds me that even though she’s gone she still has plenty to teach me.
© Kim Reynolds 2013