I’m watching them across the table, two beautiful young women, deep in conversation.
I wish you could see them.
Michelle and Joanna have been friends since they were born. They live miles apart now, but keep in touch with emails and texts and phone calls and occasional posts on Facebook.
When Michelle comes “home” to visit her family, she and Joanna try to meet for lunch, just the two of them. They always have a lot of “catching up” to do, and it’s easier to do alone, with no interruptions.
But this time they invited their mothers to join them. And not just because they’re hoping we’ll pick up the check.
Myra and I were friends before the girls were born. We met in church. She was a veteran mom with two young children, soon to have her third. I was a rookie, pregnant with my first.
I had a lot to learn. And Myra was born to teach. One day, I mentioned that a house on our block was for sale. Imagine my surprise when she and her husband bought that house and moved in across the street.
For the next 30 years, we were not just friends, but neighbors. The kind of neighbor who lets you borrow a cup of sugar knowing you won’t pay it back. Who brings you snickerdoodles at Christmas and a casserole when you’re sick. Who lets your kids run wild with her kids, or piles them in her station wagon and takes them to the park. Who can talk with you for hours in a circus of toddlers about hopes and dreams and faith and fears and how to stretch a pound of hamburger to feed a family of five plus four unexpected guests.
Michelle is Myra’s fourth child. Joanna is my second. They were born less than a year apart and grew up together more like sisters than friends.
In some ways, Myra and I grew up together, too, sharing recipes and children and life.
Over the years, our lives took different directions. I worked for a newspaper. Myra taught school. The kids all grew up and moved on with their lives.
When I lost my husband to cancer, Myra wrapped me in her arms and made me promise to call her if I needed anything, or just wanted to talk.
In the long months that followed, it helped somehow just to look out my window and see the light in her kitchen.
Years later, when I remarried and moved to Nevada, Myra and I relied on our daughters to keep us posted on each other’s news.
Last year, after my husband retired, we left Nevada and moved back to the old house. And the next day, Myra and her husband welcomed us home with a plate of snickerdoodles.
Have you ever noticed how quickly a year can pass? Myra and I had been meaning to get together to “catch up.” But a year went by and it didn’t happen. So our daughters invited us out to lunch.
Now here we sit, talking and laughing and eating, the four of us, sharing news of our families and remembering old times.
I told them my favorite Myra story. It goes like this:
We were camping, Myra and I and our seven kids. We had put the kids to bed in a tent and stayed up late talking, when a raccoon big enough to play in the NFL climbed on the picnic table and started eating our snacks. Myra gave me a look as if to say, “Watch this.” Then she banged on the table with a stick.
The raccoon gave her a look, as if to say, “Seriously?” Then he bared his teeth and hissed in her face. And she dove into the tent.
We all laughed at that story, as we often have before. Then the girls went back to talking, just the two of them. And Myra and I picked up where we’d left off.
Our daughters can talk the chicken off the bone. I wonder where they learned to do that?
Randall is a longtime newspaper columnist who may be contacted at P.O. Box 416, Pacific Grove CA 93950, or via her website, www.sharonrandall.com.