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What the heck is going on with my retirement account? What does my 401k even mean? Am I adulting right?

What was your happiest day?

What made you fall in love with Mom? Can you believe how amazing she’s been? We had never met this other steadfast and resilient version of Mom. Did you?

How’d you go to the office and work your ass off on the days when you hated it? I wish I had that relentlessness.

How’d you deal with your dad dying? Were you scared? Did it leave you this breathless?

What kind of kid were you? And when did you feel like an adult?

Why did you love football? And yardwork? And planning crazy 72 hour road trips?

What happens after? You didn’t really think you’d be looking down on us, right? I hate when people say that. As if that’s some kind of consolation prize. No, you probably didn’t buy into that either… but then again, don’t you know your grandkids in some way? I hope you’ve heard them laugh and seen how both of them can, with a single reflex or twitch, make each of us coo or crow at their tiny beautiful faces.

What do you regret?

What’s your greatest accomplishment? Your Punching The Air, Totally Nailed It, Knocked-Em-Dead Victory. Your voicemail message always ended with “leave me all the details I need to work with” and that’s what I need, Dad, so I can tell everyone the story.

How did you know you were doing a good job as a parent? When were you proudest of your kids?

Did you feel alone? Did you have the time for a memory of crowded dining room tables, cheering on our teams, or a quiet thought? Or was it faster than that? Did you recognize the siren or were you were already gone? These have been some of the hardest questions to go unanswered. I don’t know what I’d even want your answer to be. My heart hurts either way.

How do you want us to remember you? What should we do when we miss you? Sometimes when that one Toby Keith song pops up on the radio, making me laugh and cry, I just crank it up and I feel like I know that’s what you’d want me to do. Or when someone mentions Steven Covey, I know to roll my eyes because, duh, of course. But other times, when you enter the room for no real reason at all, I’m not sure how to greet you.

What did you forget to ask me?

Are these even the right questions? I wish I asked them all.

Susan Bennett

Ideal day: belly laughs at kitchen table with husband and baby, Law & Order, working with college students, bowl of ice cream, crossword.

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