My dad passed away when I was in college. I was taking an exam shortly after it happened, and I couldn’t focus. I picked up my backpack and walked out of the class. The teacher said, “If you leave, you’re going to fail this test. That’s going to hurt your average. I’m not sure you’ll pass the class.” I just kept walking. My dearest friend, Peggy, picked up her backpack and followed me out. I walked to this place called the Duck Pond, where it was just very mellow. I sat on a picnic table, and she sat next to me, without saying a word. I’ll never forget it. After about five minutes, I looked at her and I said, “Oh, my God,” and I started talking about my dad’s death. Now, if she had been asking me, “Are you OK? What do you need?” I don’t know if it would have worked. We both just sat quietly. Sometimes you just need to stop talking, because in silence, the truth comes out.
—Hoda Kotb, cohost of the Today Show and the author of Where We Belong: Journeys That Show Us the Way. She lives in New York City.