My friend E (not to be confused with Eldest, who was E for a while on her trip) is really, really sick. She seems to be doing better now, for which I am thankful. This is for her.
Over the years, I think I’ve moved around 20 times. So I’ve had a lot of friends, but you tend to lose touch the longer the time since you saw them last. E is the only person in my life who I’ve known since grade school – first grade, I’m pretty sure. She was tall, a grade or two above me, had cool clothes, and long, dark, straight hair. I was in awe. I remember seeing her at an airport when she returned from the Munich Olympics (she’d been a spectator); she was probably only about 14, and to me, a demi-goddess. She grew up to be stunning, and fortunately, I grew out of my awkwardness to stop being intimidated and to really appreciate how nice it is to have friends that are also pushing the 6 foot mark.
My main contact with her over the years has not been based on our efforts, but on the fact that our mothers are close. So throughout my adult life, the moms would get together, the daughters would tag along (although her mother still swears that on one occasion in New York, Mom and I ditched them, an accusation that still sends me into fits of laughter). Invariably, we picked up where we’d left off the last time; even if it had been years, I could always talk to her like we’d been hanging out together every day of our lives. It’s an inexplicable yet lovely bond, and every time we connect we find something else in common. We love New York, and though we missed living there at the same time, we at least were lucky enough to live there when New York was still a great place to be young and in love. Our oldest kids are only six months apart, and we went to each other’s showers; she was pregnant for mine, I was schlepping a newborn to hers. Email has brought sporadic correspondence, the most recent bout when I got sober, and I found out for the first time that she’d been in recovery herself for several years. She’s down to earth, has a great sense of humor, and is low-maintenance in the best possible way.
I really hope to see her when I go out to California in a few weeks. Maybe I will or won’t; either way, some stuff is too hard to say in person, or at least say well. So E, here are just a few things about you that I want to celebrate publicly with the few folks who read this thing. But really, this is for you:
I’m so happy you found Faber, and I hope I get to meet him before too long. By all accounts, you two are perfect for each other. Time is, unfortunately, a privilege, not a right. I know you’ve both been smart enough to realize that, and to live that way.
Your girls are all so wonderful, and you are exactly the right mom for them. I read once that every time we touch something, some of our molecules rub off onto it and vice versa; we leave little traces of ourselves all over the planet. So much of you has literally rubbed off onto your kids, as well as onto all the people you love. Wherever you are, you’re still with them, and with the rest of us. And we’re with you.
When Karl and I were living in Florida, about a year before he died, we were looking at a particularly great sunset. And we started to remember all the great sunsets we’d seen – from the top of the Empire State Building and the TradeCenter, in Mexico when we got married, in Key West. And I said, “We’ve really seen some great sunsets together.” And he said, “And the best part is, we didn’t do it because I was dying.”
I know that’s how you’ve lived. You totally get carpe diem
When Karl died, just for a second I got a glimpse of the other side. It is beautiful there. At some point, when we’re there at the same time, we’ll meet and it’ll be just like it always is when we get together – like no time has elapsed, and we’ll pick up where we left off. Maybe this time, we’ll ditch the moms.
Keep the faith, E. You help me keep mine. I love you.