When my daughter was a baby, everyone remarked that she looked just like her father—which annoyed me even if it was true. Then, as Sara got older, people observed that she looked just like me. I was delighted but Sara was not. “I don’t want to look like you,” she said. “I want to look like me.”
I was learning what all parents learn—that their children belong to themselves and have even more to teach us than we have to teach them. Sara taught me to swim when I was forty and she was on the school swim team. She also taught me generosity and resilience. We shared a love of books and reading and talking about ideas. I was a writer and she was a librarian—and we never stopped talking.
Until this month, when Sara died at the age of 46. Much too young and much too soon. There would be no more conversations about the small things and the big things. About everything that mattered.
I recently came upon a bookmark she made for me as a little girl. She was learning to print and she wrote our names as one word: S-A-R-A-M-0-M. SARAMOM. I explained that she needed to put a space between the two words. “But I want to be next to you,” she said.