My son Nick, who is 23, and I have made it a habit to have lunch together every Wednesday since shortly after Ben died, with Gina joining us whenever possible, depending on her schedule.  Last Wednesday, while eating at Sal’s and Al’s Diner, our conversation revolved around federal taxation and the nation’s infrastructure. Of course it wasn’t me that steered the conversation in that direction. Nick did. It’s his mind that’s always active with world events, politics and social and economic issues. I was complaining about the amount of taxes we pay, so Nick was pointing out the benefits of paying higher incomes taxes and how the interstate highway near our house is maintained with our tax dollars. His words – “Think about if we had to pay tolls to travel Route 2 and how much our family of 4 would have to pay since we travel that highway a lot.”

Boom! Our family of 4! It registered immediately, but I don’t think I even hinted at the impact those four little words had on me! I think my face remained “normal” as the words slapped me right upside my head and threw my gut into a twisted knot. Having had no expectation of the wind being knocked out of me, I sat there in a stunned state with my mind blank, except for “”Our family of 4. Our family of 4…..” The truth. I didn’t hear the rest of Nick’s words on the subject, and I believe he never even realized the effect his words had on me or the magnitude of the pain I felt upon hearing them. They sliced right through me–cut this Mom’s heart to the core. Innocent and harmless and ordinary words. It’s always been Mom, Dad, Ben, Nick and Gina. Not “our family of four!!” First time I had heard anyone say that. Those four little words still reverberate several days later, as that Three Dog Night tune plays over and over in my head…..

Four is the loneliest number that I’ll ever do….. Oh, it’s the saddest experience that I’ll ever know……. How I hate living with this OCD mind of mine! Quit it with the song, will ya?!!



  1. Four really is the lonliest number. We just went out to dinner tonight and ordered a table for four. We are supposed to be a party of 5! I understand exactly what you mean.

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