Hey, old friend

What d’ya say, old friend?

Are you okay, old friend?………

           Songwriter: Stephen Sondheim

Hi there, my sweetest friend! 

Yes, I know that I am incredibly slack with my letter writing. And that you always understand and take great delight in what I have to say. So, let me take you on this somewhat sentimental journey…….

I remember our first meeting.  

It was about ten years ago. I was treated to a trip to England by B. It was such a terrific adventure for me and part of that adventure was meeting you.

“Oh, what an incredibly beautiful Georgian house, B!” I exclaimed in delight as we drove into your curving drive. “I am dying to meet the owner.”

And that was when you opened the door and another special person entered my life. You came toward us smiling. Many people have smiles that don’t meet their wary, curious, anxious eyes. You had this wide, open smile and your eyes matched that smile exactly. How could I fail to like you instantly?

We had lunch outside in that magnificent garden of yours. Most gardens I see in England are small. I stood in your garden and didn’t quite manage a Julie Andrews in A Sound of Music twirl. Mine was more of an unintended, lop sided Carol Burnett kinky twist. 

“This garden is gloriously big and beautiful,” I exalted, as I collapsed mid twist on the green carpet of grass laughing. We sat outside in the sunshine which is unusual for England! You served a glorious BBQ (not a Braai!) lunch with jacket potatoes and salad and oh, how we talked.

We drove home that day and I knew I had made a friend for life.

On a subsequent occasion, B had unfortunately booked me a holiday in England that coincided with Wroxham Week. Being a sailor yourself, you know what Wroxham Week is all about. It is the yachting regatta deluxe in Norfolk. Unfortunately, I am definitely not a sailor, so while B and John stayed on a boat, I moved in with you. We had such fun together, staying up late at night, drinking wine in the kitchen, exchanging stories and learning more about one another.

One afternoon, you took me to see your husband’s grave. It was in such a beautiful spot. It was on the outskirts of the village. The church was outlined by rolling farmlands.

“One day, will you lie next to him?” I asked. You looked at me and nodded. “Come on,” you laughed, “we’ll make an English woman out of you. Time for another cuppa tea!”

On another trip to England, it was my 50th birthday. How well I remember the party you gave me. It was small, but everyone there was special. You made six wonderful muffins with the letters of my name: G – A – Y – N – O – R glowing in pink icing. You carried them towards me singing loudly. I looked at your radiant, beaming face and I thought I would explode with happiness. 

That was the thing about you. You gave off a scent of joy!

On the 17th February, I received the news that you had gone. You had left this world and moved on to a better place. I felt numb, the breath knocked out of me. No more YOU in England!

I recently stumbled across this piece. It speaks of water, sailing and the sea, all things that you loved. It seemed so appropriate for those of us you have left behind, grieving your loss.

In the beginning, the waves are 100 feet tall and crash over you without mercy. They come 10 seconds apart and don’t even give you time to catch your breath. All you can do is hang on and float. After a while, maybe weeks, maybe months, you’ll find the waves are still 100 feet tall, but they come further apart. When they come, they still crash all over you and wipe you out. But in between, you can breathe, you can function. You never know what’s going to trigger the grief. It might be a song, a picture, a street intersection, the smell of a cup of coffee. It can be just about anything…and the wave comes crashing. But in between waves, there is life.

Somewhere down the line, and it’s different for everybody, you find that the waves are only 80 feet tall. Or 50 feet tall. And while they still come, they come further apart. You can see them coming. An anniversary, a birthday, or Christmas. You can see it coming, for the most part, and prepare yourself. And when it washes over you, you know that somehow you will, again, come out the other side. Soaking wet, sputtering, still hanging on to some tiny piece of the wreckage, but you’ll come out.

The waves never stop coming, and somehow you don’t really want them to. But you learn that you’ll survive them. And other waves will come. And you’ll survive them too. If you’re lucky, you’ll have lots of scars from lots of loves. And lots of shipwrecks.

The circle of life is so hard….

I smile thinking of you now with your husband. And that sea will continue to ebb and flow in my life. I love you, sweetest friend. Until we meet again…….

As always, with a smile I kiss your beautiful eyes