I miss my friend.
As the memories come tumbling back, in no particular order, they play out as scenes from yesterday.
From fifth grade on, we rode the bus to school and away games, we pedaled our bikes down dusty country roads, and we would lay out in the sun together – as long as we could stand it before jumping into the pond. We spent long idle summer hours, planning our futures when we grew up.
We watched late night movies at her house during sleepovers, we raided her mom’s leftovers & freezer stashes – and got in trouble the next morning. We hunted bugs in the woods for biology class, and we dissected starfish, frogs, and fetal pigs. We acted in class plays, we bowled, we roller-skated, we wrote speeches, and we competed in Latin contest together.
We waitressed, we detasseled corn, we were nurses’ aides together. We borrowed trays from our dorm’s cafeteria (where we worked) to mud-slide, and we watched the first streakers on our campus in the 70’s. We wore hot pants, midriffs, and bell-bottoms. Yes, we partied, and felt the after-effects together. I can’t tell you how many times we searched for her lost contacts… We hitchhiked, we pulled all-nighters, we whispered & dreamed about boys, and we shopped & tried on clothes for hours.
Sometimes we would read the same book at the same time, hanging over the side of the bed, turning the pages. We played April Fool’s jokes on people together. We laughed until we cried, and we cried on each other’s shoulders. We watched every Doris Day movie ever made, went to Gone With The Wind six times, and we baked cowboy cookies and cinnamon rolls.
We spring-breaked with each other, we danced, we went to church, never missed an Easter sunrise service, and we sang in the choir. We got in car mishaps, and we marched in the band together. We were roomies in college. Sure, there were times we disagreed, but we gave grace to each other and moved on.
We grew up together and in a weird way, we grew apart together. (Though we planned to marry best friends and live beside each other…)
Life took us down different paths. Twice, after years apart, we still managed somehow to serendipitously end up living within blocks of one another, and fell back into our old routines. What do you want to do tonight? I don’t know, what do you want to do? You pick me up. No, you pick me up… What are you having for dinner? What are YOU having for dinner? We hung out in a lot of coffee shops and talked endlessly.
Most importantly, we supported each other. We were there for each other. We listened, even if the other was crying so hard, no words could come out. We also rejoiced together, and cheered the other on. We understood each other. Our history was so deep that no backstory or explanations were ever needed. We held each other up. And so it went, as if we had forever.
Sometimes, when I’m not motivated to write, I remember that Linda believed in me. She always, always planned to be the first in line at my first movie. (I had to explain to my husband that she would be the one to accompany me to the Oscars, btw… I mean, we planned our outfits together.)
Now there’s no more Linda. She’s been gone two years. It seems like I talked to her yesterday, but I can’t call her, I can’t visit her, I can’t reach out to her – except to the ether world and imagine she’s listening to me from above. Linda had the most faith of anyone I ever knew, both spiritually, and in others – in me. She was the first to believe in my writing, and she never stopped.
After a month and a few days into retirement, with no work demands and no social activities, my mind has relaxed, and glimmers of ideas are bubbling up during my long walks with Zu.
I’ve been thinking the least I can do is try to honor the faith of my dear friend and write something that would delight her. ~ GJDB