When my friend, Clare, died in spring, 2020, we’d known each other for 55 years. We met in our first year of college at the University of Windsor in Ontario, both majoring in English. We were each other’s maid/matron of honor (I married before she did). We were godmother to each other’s oldest child. We talked on the phone — and talked and talked. Our foursome (yes, we included our husbands occasionally) met every New Year’s Eve for almost quarter of a century, even though we lived on opposite sides of the border as my American husband was a Michiganian. Then our worlds upended.
Her husband left, admitting he was gay. Her financial situation was precarious and she chose to take in boarders. Over two weekends, my husband and I went over to her house (which she kept as part of her divorce) and worked on her doors. She’d found some old-fashioned doors in a junkyard, doors that would accommodate locks. My husband sanded and stained them. Clare and I worked on the knobs and preparing the locks. We fitted them into the openings, set hinges, and prepared them for her future boarders.
The weekend after that, my husband dropped dead and we were both widows. As if that weren’t enough to manage, life threw us more curves. Clare, a fabulous seamstress, decided to open her own sewing shop, but it failed and she lost her house. My job was threatened two weeks after I was widowed and I had to find another job. She moved out of the city of Windsor into Essex County, where it was cheaper. By then, I was living in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Geographically farther apart, we were still together, thanks to the telephone. After a long search, I found another job in California and moved. In the meantime, she’d found and moved in with a boyfriend, still in the county.
Now we were 2,500 miles apart, not phoning and essentially exchanging traditional greetings by Christmas card. To all intents and purposes, we weren’t together any more. Or so it seemed from the outside looking in. But, by then, we had FaceBook, and we had our memories. All it took was some reference to a professor in college or the doors we worked on or something about our now-grown children to connect us. Those connections happened at least once a month, still by phone, now our mobiles. When she died last spring, I lost a friend, but I still feel moments of togetherness, when I take out my Christmas tree and see an ornament she made or look at a picture when we were young and our lives lay ahead.