Penny For Your Thoughts

“Once there was a girl named Penny. Sometimes, I miss her very much.”

I tweeted this not too long ago. Probably a month or so… I can’t honestly remember.

Penny was a beautiful girl. Penny had dyed red hair and a smoker’s voice and skin like ivory. She was married to a rather sweet, quiet guy, and had two boys who were close in age to my own kids. All four children got along fairly well. She loved her children more than anything, and that is saying a lot for a heart so full of love.

When I met Penny, she worked for Pizza Hut. Shortly afterward, she lost that job, and she was in and out of employment for the rest of the time I knew her. She drove a series of poorly maintained automobiles, including the PaganMobile, which was loaned to her by her girlfriend. It was so named after the collection of Wiccan and Pagan bumper stickers it sported.

Trying to jam one of her endless 2-liter bottles of Diet Coke into our fridge, she once quipped “I can’t fit the unhealthy stuff in here. You have too much healthy stuff… there’s no room.” She lived on cigarettes and energy drinks and Diet Coke and peanut butter cups. She laughed with everything she had, lived with all her energy, loved with all her soul. She loved my children as if they were her own.

Everyone joked about Penny’s harem – the vast collection of partners of both sexes she kept. I still am baffled at how she kept them all straight. Jeff on one night, Slash another, Megan – always – the love of her life, Jeremy and their little boys, all in continuous rotation. She was the wellspring that didn’t run dry for the more love she gave out, the more she had to give out. Penny was love.

I remember when my husband met her. I remember watching them fall in love. I remember the excitement I felt for them. The sticky hot summer nights when I would return from my own adventurings and listen to him recount each moment of their courtship. I remember when their relationship cooled, and when things ended things between them.

I remember lunches out with just her, outings with the kids, quiet nights of video games and good food. I remember the sickly sweet dessert she made one Fourth of July and how I always looked slightly downward at her, because she was a little shorter than me.  I remember the coarse feel of her overly-dyed hair and the breathtaking softness of her skin. I remember a thousand little details.

I remember a year ago. I remember it clearly. I remember my husband crying. I remember him saying, “Penny is dead.” I remember my own heart stopping, my own tears for this beautiful girl.

And now, all there is, all that’s left, is memories. A woman slightly younger than I, a mother to two boys, loved by so many people, gone.

Her oldest son found her. Dead. Suddenly, unexpectedly.

And now she’s gone. And sometimes, I miss her. Very much.

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