Posted on | June 28, 2012 | 10 Comments
Tomorrow, my son and I will drive over the long, curving bridge to Ocean Isle Beach in North Carolina. We will pull into a familiar driveway, and hug the necks of oh-so-familiar family members.
And then, at some moment over the next week, two other very familiar people will arrive, with a very sweet, familiarly smiled little girl who I will hug until my arms go weak… if she’ll let me.
You see, thirty some years ago, I met her mother on the shores of that same ocean. Thirty some years ago, we ran around building sand castles, splashing in the water, and “cooking” with the powdered sugar white sand atop the murky, muddy pies we crafted from the wet, shell-filled curve of land, bathed by the ocean.
Thirty some years ago we became friends… sharing our Fourth of July year after year after year. But as happens with childhood friends, we grew apart… schools, lives, marriages, children. A year and a half ago, we reconnected, picking up where we left off. Hand in hand across the miles, we walked each other through the hot, heavy ocean soaked sands of divorce and disease, carrying each other when we could, gently tugging and dragging the other along when we could barely stand.
Thirty years ago we were childhood friends.
A year and half ago, we became kindred spirits, sisters bound by a mix of silliness and sadness and heart aching recognition of ourselves in each other.
Four months ago, she passed away, her body exhausted from the rigors of fighting a cancer that would not leave. Four months ago, she was glorified, her life celebrated in a service I could not attend… something that aches in my soul today.
But in just a few days, I will wipe away tears behind my sunglasses. I will turn my eyes to the sky and smile, knowing that she will be smiling, too, as our children learn the lay of the land, the roll of the sea, and the crush of the tides… there on that familiar beach where our laughter might still echo today… if I listen carefully enough.
I miss you, Jen. Today and always.