Thursday, September 18, 2008

An Awkward Memory

We have the nicest neighbors. It would be hard to think of moving away from this neighborhood, because there are so many kind, good people here. When Gregg and I take a walk down our road (it's a mile and a half each way), we always seem to see someone we know, and wave, or say "hello" to them, or stop to chat. That is a nice feeling.

We have lived here for over eight years, and many things have happened in the neighborhood in that time. People have moved in and out, houses have been built or remodeled, relationships have broken and reformed, children have graduated and moved on to college. There are plenty of stories of people helping us all through Katie's illness and beyond. But there is one particular story that popped into my head tonight, and I have to share it.

After Katie passed away, we took several days to plan her Celebration of Life. She passed away on a Thursday, and we held the celebration the following Wednesday evening, right on our street, at Kiana Lodge. The lodge is often booked for weddings and group events, and it is a beautiful place. Everyone around here knows about it.

A couple of days after Katie passed away, but before her celebration, Gregg and I were taking a walk down the road. At that point, social contact was very difficult for me, and I did not want to see or speak to anyone but family and my closest friends. However, we happened to see a neighbor walking toward us (on the opposite side of the street), and it was a neighbor who we don't know well at all. I said to Gregg, "Okay; let's just talk to each other, and she won't be able to make eye contact with us." Avoid. We were doing this, when she crossed the road, walked right up to us and said, "Excuse me, but do you know if the little girl has died?"

I am not making this up.

We looked at her, stunned, and I said, "Yes, she has; she's our daughter."

Then the neighbor said something like, "Oh, I'm sorry; that's so sad. I heard that her party is going to be at Kiana; is that right?"

We said, "Yes," and walked on as fast as possible. And then, to be honest, hoped that maybe she wouldn't come to the celebration of life for "the little girl" whose name she didn't even know.

I had fun telling this story, after I got over the shock and hurt feelings; it's so bad that it's funny. She didn't mean to be mean; she is a sweet lady. It was a sort of accidental awkwardness. (Who among us hasn't had one of those moments when we wish the ground would just open up and swallow us?) She was asking a natural question, but she couldn't have chosen anyone worse to ask. Truly.


Suz said...

Oh my goodness. I wonder if she really didn't mean to say it that way? or is she just one of those clueless people?
Everyone has said things they wish they could take never seem to forget them either.
I wonder if she remembers saying this to you. You are both so kind NOT to smack her down in the street. :)

The Engine of the Family said...

Lots of times people say really dumb things at the most worst times...I'm sure I've been guilty of that...oh yes, actually I do remember a time. My sister-in-law, Heidi had a sister-in-law that was pregnant. When I saw her sister-in-law, I told her I was so excited for her pregnancy and how was she doing....she said 'we lost the baby a few weeks ago.' Oh man....BIG foot in BIG mouth...I felt horrid!