She was born a decade and a half before I was, and so we joked that she was my beacon into old age. She had hormone replacement, got cancer, got treated, and got better; she retired and wasn’t bored; her husband died; and she moved into successively smaller spaces – literally and metaphorically.
We lived in different cities. She was the client rep from her company to mine, and we talked on the phone, managing market research studies together, nearly every day. When she visited, we went out for long lunches.
After I left that company, and after she retired, we talked on the phone nearly every day.
I could hear her world getting smaller, as she talked more and more about herself, about the small annoyances in her life. She got crankier and crankier, as I’ve written; even mean, I have to confess. She hurt me.
We stopped talking when she lost the ability to dial a phone. Through her brother, I learned she’d moved to a retirement home, and then to the Alzheimer’s wing. I wanted to visit her one last time, but, according to her brother, she wasn’t interested in seeing me.
The other day he wrote me that her beloved cat had died, the cat all the nurses who knew her thought she couldn’t live without; but after the cat went to be euthanized, she never mentioned him. Her brother says he’s not sure she knows she ever had a pet. She spends her days lying on her bed.
She certainly doesn’t know she has a friend who misses her, and yet I still want to say goodbye.
I don’t let friends go easily.