My friend from America, Marilyn called me today. I met Marilyn when I was in NYC and we hit it off right away and became great friends. We had the same love for literature and dreams of writing, museums and opera, and a lust for walking the city. We became pregnant within one week of each other and spent much of our pregnancy walking the sidewalks of NYC together, and eating. We ate a lot. During our last trimester we both had a craving for Mexican food.
El Coyote in Greenwich Village is one of the best places for Tex-Mex food in the world. It is a small restaurant with six or seven booths, and some ten or so tables spread about into a back room – more of an indentation really. The only bathroom lies at the end of a very narrow darkened hallway where the doors for the men and women’s face each other. I am 5’10” tall and Marilyn is 5’11” tall and we were HUGE. The sight of the two of us coming down 5th avenue scared off more than one tourist I can assure you. We had gone for lunch a week before Marilyn delivered. Once we had placed our bellies in the booth it never failed that one of us had to pry loose and go to the bathroom. The trip down that narrow hall was like a Stephen King movie where I was just waiting for Jack Nicholson to show up, especially when I reached the end only to see the door from the Men’s room opening! He took one look at me wedged in the hallway and backed himself into the Men’s room snappy quick.
Marilyn delivered a beautiful healthy little girl one week before I did the same. The girls grew up side by side for three years. Marilyn and I talked parenting, losing the baby weight, and the future. Now it was the four of us who walked NYC, and every museum, every zoo, and every merry-go-round saw us visit.
Marilyn moved her family to the country, and had another healthy girl. Q and I left the city as well. We have kept in close touch since those years. Emails constantly, photographs of every event, calls when we were happy, calls when we were frightened or sad, and we threatened visits but something always came up. We always knew what was going on in each other’s life and what the children were doing.
Her eldest daughter graduated university the same year as Q. Her youngest began university this year and has done splendidly. Not only are her grades good, but also she has found her career path, and loves the school. She and her older sister have been remarkably close since they were small children. Diane went to California to visit her big sister over her Christmas holiday.
My friend Marilyn called me today. Diane is dead. She was in a pedestrian accident in Baltimore where she attended university. She died at the scene.
I debated whether to write this for the blog. Normally I only pass on good news, but I think we all have to have these wake up calls now and again. Diane wasn’t sick, she wasn’t in a war zone, and it wasn’t a terrorist’s attack. It was an accident, and her life is over. Marilyn has had her heart torn out. “How can a person be in this much pain and still be alive?”
Go now – hug people you love. Call your parents, call your children, call your partner or spouse. Act sappy, mushy, and do not do it quietly. So quickly and it is gone. I have had this loss and it never gets better. You bleed every day and it is a wound that does not heal. You never hear that laugh again, you don’t get to see her graduate, have a career, get married…all that we take for granted. Every day, every day we have to pay attention to our lives. Live every day like it is the last day of someone you love.
Thank you for listening.