Monday, January 23, 2017

Dear Janine

I haven’t forgotten you. Your laugh was a boom, sudden and unapologetic. I remember that much but I don’t remember exactly what it sounded like now. It’s hard to write about you, even 10 years later. When your dad died, two years ago, I thought, maybe you are together. It was too hard to face the breast cancer walk last year. Our little group didn’t hear from your beloved about walking. I hope it’s because he fell in love and was too happy to meet us all in the parking lot so early on a Saturday morning. I will try to remember to send him a Christmas card. He really is a nice man, but I don’t have to tell you that.

I haven’t said it yet, but I miss you. Our talks, our emails. The kind of friend you were. You took it seriously, friendship. You drove to see me after I moved away. One of the only friends who did. And it’s not the thoughtful birthday and Christmas presents. The last time you visited me – remember? You had a present for my cat from your cat. It was so earnest and so damn sweet. When you said goodbye you kissed the top of the cat’s head, like a blessing. It’s so pressed into my memory, that image, the cat’s eyes closing for a moment.

I have your letters and cards and some photos of you, somewhere safe. Where is another story. My memory has gone to hell and I miss the conversations we never got to have about aging. If I dig up those letters, I’ll cry. I’ll read them all, your letters and cards, you always wrote so much. Thank Christ I saved them.

I still have that umbrella you gave me. The popup one with different colored panels. What made it such a thoughtful present was that I needed one, one just like that. You didn’t know this, but somehow you did. It still works. I had to sew the fabric back onto the ribs a few times. I just can’t let it go. Silly, right? It’s not you I’d be throwing away, or your laugh or the cafĂ© mochas or the frozen yogurt we ate with your dad, or Disneyland. I’ll keep it a little longer, I think, and see how I feel. What would you do, if you were me?