Guest post by Amanda Ashley

There are social norms. The ones everyone knows. The things, while you may be curious, you would never ask of a stranger:

How much money do you make?
What do you weigh?
Who did you vote for?

But for those of us who’ve lost children, add a couple more to that list can easily throw us for a loop. Questions that, to the rest of the world, are less than innocuous, pass-the-time conversation starters but o me feel sharply personal.

Do you have kids?

Simply put, yes. I do. I have two. Not so tough.

Then the inevitable follow-up:

How old are they?

Here we go, stranger.

My boy is three months old. Lovely. Perfect. No, I don’t get much sleep and yes, it’s totally worth it.

My girl, my first born, should be 15 months old. She should be walking right about now, attempting first words and phrases. She should be cranky that her tiny infant brother is taking up so much of mom’s time right now.

But she isn’t. She was perfect, too. But she was also very sick and couldn’t stay here with us. We love her and miss her.

There is a split second debate I have in my head when this line of questioning comes up. I don’t enjoy making people uncomfortable and try, when possible to answer questions worded just so, in order to be truthful but avoid laying the heavy whole truth on them.

But, just like any other mom, I love talking about my kids. I love talking about Eleanor. I love just saying her name. Eleanor.

And I made a pledge early on after losing her, that I would never discount her, never leave her out just to make it easier on me or easier on anyone.

A few times I have indulged in the enjoyment of letting someone make the assumption that both my children are here.

“A girl and a boy?!” Said a nail tech, once after asking how many. “So lucky.” I smiled at this fantasy. “Yep!”

“Only one year apart?” Said a cashier, after I told her birth dates instead of ages. “That’s gotta be pretty hard.”

But the semantics strategy has begun to feel really dishonest. I don’t like doing it anymore.

So fair warning, people. You’re gonna get the truth. All you have to do is ask.

Now, who wants to discuss something easy? maybe religion? Or federal health care plans?

Anyone?