It’s been seventeen years to the day since my daughter left our house on the way to the West-Reynolds football game and never arrived there. She was killed in a car crash on a straight stretch of country road before dusk.
In our family in that seventeen years, both my parents have died, and several of the more than three dozen aunts and uncles have joined them along with some of my cousins, their children. I may have attended more funerals within these seventeen years than all the years before. And I suppose that’s not so unusual in large extended families.
Elizabeth’s two older brothers now have beautiful families. They added daughters-in-law to our family, and I love them deeply. They have added six children between them, five girls and one baby boy. (And Elizabeth used to say to me on the rare occasion when she felt outnumbered, “We need more girls in this family!”) And our sons are immersed in nurturing and caring for their families now too.
The cousins Elizabeth played with have grown up, finished school, married and in several cases have young families of their own. Her friends have grown up, often moved far away, often married, and they are having children of their own too. I am honored to be an honorary grandmother to several of them.
This morning and this week I have had sweet notes and posts from friends and family. Our daughter is not forgotten. And friends have reminded me that it is never too late to say I am thinking of you on this day. So like my new friend whose lifeline in memory of her loved ones is “Do good,” encouraging and magnifying their influence on her life and on others, I will try to remember more often for others the days that are difficult because a loved one is missed. And do something. Aunt Virginia–who sent a card and personal note for every imaginable occasion in life, who had a mailbox in her garage with already stamped and addressed but unsent cards to loved ones when she died–Aunt Virginia would be pleased, I think.
And for today, when the same two schools play a football game at the school where Elizabeth was headed on that Friday night 17 years ago, I will remember all those souls who have touched our lives and remembered too. And I will remember Elizabeth.