I had a childhood friend who was more of a sister to me than my siblings. We weathered a parochial school education together; navigated the sometimes hilarious straits of dating; married men of questionable maturity; co-raised our girls; and then we parted. Death does that.

We had just clicked into our fifth decade chronologically. Life was transitioning for us both. By now divorced, I was looking for a job and college hunting with my daughter. My best friend was also planning for that inevitable empty nest too but she was still married with a younger child occupying her time. We would sit together having a “cuppa” tea or a glass of wine while projecting into the future about us. It came as a quick decision one afternoon. Since statistically her husband would likely predecease her, we should arrange to eventually retire together to some home for the elderly, matching rocking chairs, cats languishing in our laps, and wearing shiny clip-on earrings in our blue-tinted hair. It sounded delightful. So us.

But cancer came for her and stayed for just about two years. Time somehow extended the days despite the tears. She requested that I write her obituary and I accepted the assignment. One brilliant autumn afternoon as we sat on her couch, she asked if I believed in heaven. I said I did not. She was unsure. We didn’t dwell on that matter as she turned the conversation to the pergola she and her husband were building in the backyard. Always the optimist.

The wake was well attended. She was an amiable woman with an edgy sense of humor, well-known for her over-the-top entertaining style and masterful culinary skills. She wore bouclĂ© jackets with jeans and pearls. And, as I bent down and kissed her forehead, I said “Good night and sleep tight”. You never say good-bye to dear friends.

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