We met through our kids. We bonded as a result of Jewish Geography.
“When are Jon, Sarah and the kids getting to your house?” Rachel asked with a coy smile.
“What?” I dumbly replied. “How did you know that? How do you know Jon and Sarah? They live in Israel.” I stared at her questioningly.
“After they finish lunch with you, they are heading to my Mom and Stepdad’s country house. Jon is my Stepdad’s nephew. Rachel’s Cheshire cat grin spread across her face.
Jon was one of my closest friends from graduate school. Rachel wasn’t even a friend yet. We had been paired for a camp carpool. She lived close and camp was the next town over. We had been carpooling for a month when she got out of the car at pick-up and asked the question. My mother always told me the world was small.
After that morning, we quickly progressed from slightly awkward carpooling parents to best friends and fast family friends. The boys got along. The husbands got along. Our families meshed in a thousand ways that made friendship easy. I joked they were our Sunday night family. That family you call at 5 pm on a Sunday night when you have no idea what to do for dinner, you are tired of your kids and your spouse, and you need fresh blood.
They answer. Yup. Count us in! You eat and laugh together, and head into the week a little lighter.
We moved to London for two years and Rachel and I still spoke on the phone, for at least an hour, every day. We moved back and despite the kids being at different schools we remained best friends. Then we weren’t. She moved her son to his fourth school in six years, a 45-minute drive away. My mom’s cancer returned, and she was not doing well. The phone calls became less frequent. My calls went to her voice mail. Rachel stopped calling back. I was deeply hurt. I’d want to talk but stopped myself from calling; no one enjoys rejection.
Out of the blue, when she needed something, she would call.
“Who are you using to cater the boy’s party?
“Do I rent chairs for my mother-in-law’s Shiva?
“Are you using a college consultant?”
At first, I was so happy that we were talking again. From my perspective we fell back into the rhythms of all those past conversations. It was easy. It felt great. When the phone stopped ringing again, I felt used. If I was the one she called during a family trauma, why was she no longer calling regularly or answering my calls? I never had the courage to ask. We were broken up, what did it matter? As much as it hurt, I knew it wasn’t me. There had been stories of other friends she had left behind. Yet the ache become part of my friendship baggage.
Over the years, I have made other friends; started a book group, joined a bridge club and filled in the void.
Strangely, I never run into her when doing errands around town, although I have seen her husband occasionally at Starbucks. When I poke at it, there is still an ache, like a bruise that is not completely healed, but I move on.
My kids are grown and mostly life is a little easier. Sunday nights, we have fallen back on an old family tradition of my husband’s. We have Chinese food; sometimes with friends, sometimes just our family.