Last night, I picked up a long-time friend from the airport. She had decided, on a whim, to get on a plane from Toronto and high off to Kauai for a few days. She had called a few days before to say that she has an eleven hour layover in SFO. Would we like to spend some time with her? No pressure. If we’re busy, she can reroute her flight. I checked my calendar. Sent a text to the hubby. We’re good!
After running around all day doing my chores, i.e., the dry cleaners, bank, drug store, supermarket, cheese graters, searching for the right kind of Twin XL high thread-count sheets and the softest of towels, and meeting up with our daughter in the city, I was ready to go and get Sheelagh at the airport.
She had come by many times in the past, either en route to some medical mission in Vietnam or attending some conference in Down Under. She’d spend the night, occasionally a few days, and then she would be off to conquer the rest of the world, Sheelagh-style.
We sat around in our kitchen. Over some tea, caneles, and oatmeal raisin cookies, we caught up with each other’s lives. We talked about friends and family here and gone, colleagues we knew in common, the unexpected turn of events for some. We touched on her husband’s sudden passing and how it seems like it was only yesterday but it has been more than a year. Or at times, it seems like it was a long time ago, but really, it has only been a little over a year. She still thinks about him, she admitted. When she hears about or discovers something novel, she said, the first thought that creeps into her consciousness is her knee-jerk desire to share the information with him. Our loved ones never really die. They live in our waking thoughts, imbedded forever in the sulci of our brains.
We talked about our parents and their advancing age, their waning health, their unreliable minds. We both chose to laugh at the sometimes exhausting grind of forgotten pronouncements such as,
“Well, I would never say such a thing!”
This, even if five people can attest to her having made such declarations and vehemently too.
Or, the comical preoccupations such as
“I’m convinced! They are stealing my bras and then returning them a few weeks later! They sneak them under my bed.”
Now, who would take an interest in old worn brassieres worn by a 90-year old woman? And then take the time to return them too!
We both wonder, without mentioning it, how things might be when it’s our turn. That is, if we would be blessed with the longevity of our forbears.
I had asked her if she had seen another friend, who I had not seen in a long time. I admitted I had received an email nudge from her back in April. It seemed she had a lot going on in her life. I had promised to call but have been distracted by work. By travel. By work travel.
I searched the email thread this morning. We had both promised to chat. But we did not get around to doing it.
I felt this pang of guilt creep up in my chest. I should call. I should connect. She’s a friend from our Toronto days. Even after having lived in the SF Bay Area longer now (18 years and counting!), I still hold dear these few friendships we said we would like to preserve. Life is short indeed. Time flies by and before we know it, we might not know how to use whatever newfangled device they will come up with to communicate!
Yes, I will make that call. Now.