This week marks a sad anniversary: the tragic death of a beautiful young woman named Penney Richards. Penney was killed in a motorcycle accident on a sunny day in 2009.
To be honest, I didn’t really know her. But I had once worked with her mother, who has the same name but spells it Penny.
I usually slip into depression in November, but I sunk much deeper into it that year because I couldn’t stop thinking about a vibrant young life cut short and the parents left to find a way forward.
That was the obsessive side of my OCD at work — the part that couldn’t help but latch on to other people’s grief. I’m lucky because I don’t do that often, but I know people who do it all the time. I call them professional mourners and agents of doom, folks who only call you when there’s a terminal illness or death to report.
Though I don’t go there often, I sure as hell did that November. I felt terrible for Penney and her family. I also felt like an asshole for inserting myself into a situation where I didn’t have much business. I worked with Penny, but we weren’t close friends. I felt like a grief parasite.
And so, on Pearl Harbor Day, Dec. 7, 2009, The OCD Diaries was born.
Penny continues to write about her life experiences.
Though Penny and I weren’t exactly friends back then, we certainly are now. I’d like to think we appreciate each other for sharing the deep shit. For my part, I’ve been inspired by her along the way.
This is someone who beat breast cancer and, though a parent never truly recovers from their child’s death, she has found a way to keep living and has shared it with all of us.
She became a justice of the peace, and many of her posts on Facebook these days are about that.
Hers is a journey of love, with all the grace, beauty, joy and sadness that goes with it.
My thoughts and prayers are with her on the fifth anniversary of her daughter’s death.
Penny’s daughter, Penney Richards.