The Three Musketeers

April 2, 2009

High school and best girlfriends..relationships that are going to last forever, right?

My Mom decided to call one of her best friends last week…they’ve always kept in touch but sometimes go months between calls. The husband answers the phone… “Hi – is Jean there?” my Mom asks. There is a pause… “Jean is dead” he replies. I don’t know how long my Mom held that phone to her ear is silent disbelief, but I know that her mind was racing. Jean – dead? No… can’t be true…she wasn’t ill…I just talked to her a few months ago…. But yes, in fact   – she had passed away. A strange cold emptiness filled my mother – as if winter was blowing through her soul. How could one of the Three Musketeers (as they had been  known in high school) be gone?

I know that my mother spent the next few days numbly going through the motions of every day life – groceries, laundry…all with Jean on the brain.

Jean, Pat and my mother has been best friends in high school – 16 year old girls (like my own daughter is now) giggling as they sat on the bedroom floor discussing make-up and fashion, the cutest boy in school and what they might do in their lives once they graduated. When they got together, they were still those same girls – even into their sixties and beyond. Their lives took many different twists and turn and even though years may have gone by between communications- the bond still held fast…friendship is, after all – the super glue of the human spirit. These friendships are the very core of who we are, for they are formed when we still are, who we are – especially in regards to women. Long before we are mothers, grandmothers and everything in between…these teenage friendships are formed when we are discovering who we are inside. We share those hopes and dreams – no matter how far-fetched and unrealistic they seem at that time….and our true friends not

The other Musketeer suffers from Alzhiermers and has been gone for a long time…but Jean? Jean was still the golden thread to my mother’s soul…and without warning – the thread was broken and she was gone. My mother never had the chance to say goodbye…to share a last laugh over that hideous lipstick shade, so wrongly chosen 50 years ago  (but still remembered!).

My mother isn’t crazy – she’s well aware that this is how life goes when you are 80. It’s just that she doesn’t have that phone call she can make anymore – the one where the person on the other end recognizes your voice immediately and transforms you into an I-can-do anything Girl…the one you were – and still are inside, that has with her whole life ahead of her- the one who remembers and supports your craziest dream…and who doesn’t think  it’s too late to accomplish them even at your mature age.  Sad, of course, but you go on.  My mother has a wonderful marriage – 2 girls and 5 grandchildren to enjoy – she has her other friends and her clubs and groups -she is full of life, but still…

When your best friend dies…so does a piece of you – the piece that you kept young and hopeful inside…your heart is broken and your soul is badly bruised. A friend like this is a special love – untouchable and not physical…but of the spirit, or the soul…of all things felt but not seen or heard. I saw a picture of Jean when the Three Musketeers were in their early twenties with their lives ahead of them, with her slim hips, wide winning smile and fabulous suit – a bit of a bombshell……and I am sure that she is floating around out there in the clear blue sky … looking down with love on her family – looking down on her friend, and perhaps giggling at the shade of lipstick my Mom is wearing right now.

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