From Chicken Soup for the Girlfriend's Soul

More Than Ever

We had not seen each other for thirty years. Neither of us knew how that had happened. We had been dear friends when we were fourteen years old and through our teenage and young-married years. Somehow, life had tossed us about in different directions. But we never forgot one another.

Now we were getting together again. She was still married to the man she had fallen in love with, and I was now a widow. She came east to attend a wedding, and while she was here, we planned a visit. So many years had intervened. So much of life had already been lived. I wondered, How could we catch up with all of it? Would there be enough time? Was the distance too long between the young girls who giggled all afternoon while listening to the phonograph, and the mothers and grandmothers we now were?

Looking back, the problems we shared then, so urgent at the time, appeared less so now. Hours spent wondering if our bodies would ever change so that young men would be attracted to their curves. And when they did, other problems arrived. As we sat and painted fingernails together, daydreamed together, decided on the Saturday night date together, shopped for clothes together, we knew instinctively we could deal with all the changes, the frustrations and the uncertainties, together. I traveled nearly an hour to spend Sunday mornings in her kitchen having breakfast with her parents. They never knew why we were laughing or what we talked about at the table. She came to the shore to be with me, to sit on the sand, baking for hours, but with the silent understanding we didn’t dare go in the water and get wet. That would have been disastrous to the image we had spent hours creating. To the world, we were popular and fun. To each other, we were real. Vulnerable and unsure.

We had seen each other last in the midst of life, children about our knees, energy in our eyes. I was thinking just before she arrived,
Would she not recognize me now?
I glanced into the mirror and surveyed the white hair, the lined face. Would she be doing the same?

When she stepped from the car, we spent many long moments just looking at one another. I knew then it didn’t matter what we looked like. For neither of us would see it, anyway. “You look the same,” I said, and I meant it. She said something similar to me. For in our laugh, our broad smiles, our loving eyes and warm hugs, nothing had changed.

Perhaps because love is ageless. And that’s what had remained between us, the strong bond of friendship and the love that accompanied it. We both felt its power as we stood there, for those few moments in silence, just drinking in each other’s presence.

She had kept our friendship alive through photographs, which she shared. One was of me in a bathing suit. On the back I had written that someday we would sit together, perhaps fifty years later, and my love for her would be the same. And it was over fifty years later that we were doing so. But my feelings were even deeper now. Sitting at my kitchen table, sharing tea and cake, talking about our children and grandchildren, our accomplishments in life, I realized we had more to give to one another than ever. More than ever, I appreciated the friendship that had survived so many years.

We laughed over the heartbreaking moment, at least for me, when she told me, on a street corner, after we had attended our college night classes, that she and the wonderful young man she loved were going to get married. “Married?” I asked, shocked. “You don’t want to get married. Not yet.” She was about twenty. And so was I. We were going to go to college at night. We had dreams to chase, together. Now she would seek them with someone else. And leave me to chase them alone.

Fifty years later, as the back of the photograph predicted, we were sitting around a table. It also predicted we wouldn’t look the same.

To each other, we did.

Harriet May Savitz

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