Dear Mrs. L

 I sent you (and your family) a Christmas card last week, just like I always do.  Made sure that I included my son's senior photo because I knew you would want to see it.  And I expected that within the next few weeks I'd get a card back from you, full of your enthusiastic writing.  I didn't know when I put sealed it up and mailed it out that you you’d had a seemingly simple surgery (is ANY surgery simple?) that lead to horrible complications.  I didn't know that you would never see my annual holiday greeting and my wishes for a better 2023 seem trite and unkind.

I didn't know when we spoke in July that it would be our last conversation.  How ironic that the call was about my mother's passing.  I never bothered to ask about your own health challenges.  But then that wouldn't have been something you talked about.  I don't recall you ever been focused on you; it was all about family and despite the fact that we lived over 2000 thousand miles away and rarely saw each other, I felt like we were family.

I've known you most of my life, since you and my mom met at kindergarten drop off, both of you crying as you dropped off your "babies."  (Or at least that's the story I've been told.)  You became fast friends, as did I with your daughters.

Your house (yes I still consider it yours even after all these years) was full of fun.  I remember playing board games in the den, the playhouse in the backyard and of course the VW minibus. Did you love that vehicle as much as I remember?   I know I did.  How safe was it?  (How safe was ANY car back in the 1970s.)  Dare I mention the time that you "poisoned" me (using the same knife to cut my sandwich as with sandwiches that contained mayo [way before the advent to vegan mayo]) and how you practically made yourself as sick as I was.  (Which thankfully wasn't that sick.)  Did you actual take ipecac with me?  (Again, it was the 70s and that's what you did when you ingested a poison, or in my case an allergen.)  I hope not.

When my mom was sick you were there to help.  Your whole family was (under your guidance).  You were the leader as we moved from our "old" house to our new one (only a few blocks away).  Would we have managed without you?  Maybe, but certainly not as well.

You and your wonderful family moved away before I was out of elementary school, but distance didn't keep us from your heart.  There were always calls and letters.  You came back to NJ for visits and my parents stayed with you in California several times.  Distance never overcame friendship.

Special occasions were NEVER forgotten.  You weren't physically there when I got married, but you were there in spirit, giving us the most beautiful wine flutes as a gift.  (One of the wedding gifts that I still use to this day.  A gift that is beautiful and practical.)  And when my son was born, it was almost like he was your own flesh and blood.  Looking over the photos from when you first held him when he was just 13 months old, you can feel the warmth and tenderness that radiated off of you.  There was no limit on the love that you gave.

It may have been over 40 years since you left New Jersey, but you never left our hearts.  You may have left this world, but your spirit will never leave us.  You always let us know how much you loved us; I hope you know how much we LOVE you and we always will.

With Love,

Beth F

P.S.  I used the wine glasses last night and toasted you.  Somewhere out there I hope you and my mom are out there with your own glasses.


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