From Chicken Soup for the Girlfriend's Soul

Cece and Agnes

Constant use had not worn ragged the fabric of their friendship.

Dorothy Parker

Cecelia and Agnes did not become good friends until many years after they first met. Cecelia was nearly ten years older than Agnes, so they did not know each other, despite living in the same rural community. Their relationship began as in-laws, brought together when Cecelia’s daughter married Agnes’s son. Later, after both women’s husbands died, they became closer than ever, conversing several times each week and often traveling together.

In the early years of their friendship, Cecelia and Agnes saw each other mainly at family gatherings. They loved attending the various celebratory events of their children’s lives. Birthdays, anniversaries and the holidays were times of shared happiness. After the deaths of their husbands, Agnes and Cecelia consoled each other in their grief and eventually became the best of friends. They watched with pride as their children became grandparents, and every new addition to their families brought them more joy. As their families became more independent, Cecelia and Agnes ventured beyond their small Midwestern hometown to explore the United States together.

After many years of enjoying each other’s company, the years finally took their toll on Cecelia. As the older woman approached her mid-eighties, her mind became more and more confused. Cecelia’s family eventually had to make the difficult decision to move her to a nursing home. Agnes, on the other hand, remained busy as ever, her mind sharp and her wit quick.

A true friend, Agnes was determined to help Cecelia in whatever way she could, especially on her almost daily visits to her friend in the nursing home. For several years beyond the time when Cecelia could recognize her, Agnes kept coming to see and talk to “Cece.” As Agnes approached her eighties, she wondered why Cece continued to live, it seemed, long past her prime. She commented frequently to the nurses at the home, “God must have forgotten my friend Cece. If I go first, I will tell him to go and get her, and bring her straight to heaven!” Everyone laughed, never dreaming that Agnes—the picture of health herself—would go first.

But Agnes did die first, one frigid December morning, without any warning to her many friends and family members. The family was devastated by this unexpected shock. Agnes’s funeral was delayed for several days; it was so cold, the ground was frozen solid.

Finally, the family was able to gather to celebrate Agnes’s life. As her son and daughter-in-law prepared to leave for the church, they received a call from the nursing home informing them that their children’s other grandmother, Cecelia, had just passed away.

As the news of Cecelia’s death spread throughout the church during Agnes’s funeral, one might have been surprised to see smiles and hear a few chuckles at such a sad event. Yet those who knew the two women well, and had heard Agnes’s promise to “talk to God” if she got to heaven first, were immediately consoled in their grief. The two best friends were together again at last, joined with their creator and each other forever.

Mary Treacy O’Keefe

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