songs of friendshipIt never fails, “Inch by inch, row by row”…gonna make those tears flow!  I see my soul sister and I, surrounded by 4 toddlers. We kept a watchful eye, but mostly we left them to their own devices while we talked and talked and shared all that had happened in our lives since we left Barnard College.  We had spent many a college evening watching the sunrise as we explored the existential dilemmas of life. Marriage, distance and the process of reproducing had separated us, but the women’s movement had brought us together again to share, to explore and to figure out  “it”/life  once again.

When the kids became restless, with our inattention, my friend would pull out her guitar. And after a game or two of “Duck, Duck, Goose” she would sing.  Folk music was in vogue and her voice was meant for it. Pete Seeger might have found fame with “Inch by inch” but for me, it captured our friendship. The fertilizer was our conversations; the mulch was vigilance in not letting time slip by or honesty erode. “Bless these seeds I sow…keep them safe, ” oh how we wanted life to be so perfect for our children and for us. Together we sorted out the dream of perfection from the realities of living.

But my friend was not kept safe, that was 30 years ago and I still miss her. Her children grew strong, but she died with courage and with sadness from breast cancer. Her children lost a mother, unfathomable and irreplaceable. I lost a friend. But I feel that perhaps she lost most of all, in not seeing her family grow.  I cry as I write. Cherish your friends, when they leave you, the loss is great and the void is never filled.

Unlike her children I had other friends, but continue to miss her.

My other college roommate and I were luckier. We had 40 more years together. She has been a part of every success in my life, as my cheerleader, adviser, or a major contributor. For 54 years she had been my confidant, my interior decorator, my editor and my port in any storm. We shared the disappointments and joys of love, the births of our children, the death of our mutual best friend, and the deaths of our own parents. She always made herself available to celebrate or commiserate and to help find the road forward. Often over a cup of coffee either in the same room or as we each sat with our phones in hand. How do you measure a year, or a friendship, In cups of coffee?  If so, the water from my tears will provide enough from an army, every time I hear that song.

Memories come with us and a song brings them to mind. It is good to remember. How lucky I was to have  deep and enduring friendships.

I hope the generosity of spirit and the keen minds my friends shared have taught me to return the favor.  My wish for all you readers is, that you will end your life with relationships that last beyond your years together.

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