December 14, 2003

Tragic Skills

One learns many things when a family member dies. When my sister died I learned a lot about myself and a lot about other people. These are valuable lessons which should not be forgotten easily.

One can also learn a lot of new skills. The most important skill combination to master is the "smile-and-nod" techniqe with an "I-have-been-comforted" face followed quickly by some "Thank-you-for-your-kind-words" expression. This skill may be tested months after the death of a family member by someone you have never met before.

For example, yesterday I was pumping gas into my car when I was approached by a woman who I don't believe I have ever seen before. I immediately recognized the look on the woman's face ("oh-you-poor-dear-let-me-comfort-you") and quickly braced myself for what was coming. Sure enough, she launched into the requisite speech about how much everyone misses Jessica and the others and how sorry she was for what happened. She then proceeded to tell me that her daughter was naming their new dog "Jessica (something) Angel."

During this speech I once again had to smile, nod, and look comforted. I then thanked her. She smiled, turned, and walked away probably feeling quite pleased with herself. I looked into the car she walked out of and recognized her daughter. Her daughter looked horribly embarassed about what her mother just did, so I smiled at her and waved.

I'm not sure why this woman decided to approach me and tell me these things eight months after my sister died. I'm also not sure why she thought telling me her daughter was naming a dog after my sister would make me happy.

I really don't understand people.

Posted by Randy at December 14, 2003 07:29 PM