Earlier this week I got together with an old friend. I haven't seen her since I was pregnant with Henry, and then for a while I couldn't talk to her. I don't know why. Every time I tried to call or email her, I got stuck.
It wasn't a case of a friend not being there for me. She sent sent a card at the one month mark. She made donations in is name. She noted that she had never met him and that she would always regret that. There was nothing she had said or done, or not said or not done, but anytime I tried to get in touch, I stopped. Finally I wrote and told her that I didn't know why but I was having a hard time talking to her, but I didn't want to lose our friendship.
Eventually we started again: e-mail, Facebook, . . . we joked about reviving our Birthday Weekend tradition, which had lasted from 1993, the year we met, until 2006. Some years were more extravagant (month-long cross-country trip, California wineries and spa, a week on the Outer Banks) than others (a weekend of watching bad movies and eating junk food and playing cards), but we kept up the tradition.
We didn't actually revive Birthday Weekend, but we did what we haven't done in over three years: actually get together. We started looking for a date in the spring and ended up picking one in late-August.
She asked if she should she bring the kids or try to get her cousin to babysit. We haven't seen each other in over three years. I know how hard it is to have a conversation with three kids demanding attention. Lunch or dinner, just the two of us, was appealing, but I told her I didn't know what Brian's schedule would be like and we don't have a regular babysitter. I'd have to plan on having Kathleen, so she might as well bring her kids. Besides, I added, you haven't met Kathleen, and I haven't met Charlotte.
I did want to meet her daughter, her second child, and I wanted her to meet mine. But the unfinished part of that sentence was, we should meet each other's kids—just in case.
She never met Henry, will only ever know him from pictures and stories. Most likely I will have years of hearing about Charlotte and seeing pictures as she grows from baby to little girl to young woman, and most likely, she will have years of the same with Kathleen. But you never know. So now I've met Charlotte, and she's met Kathleen. She'll never get to meet my first baby, but I made sure she met my second. I hate thinking this way.
It was a good visit. We talked, with interruptions and distractions, about our garden and her house and my pregnancy and recent health scares in extended family. We fell into that comfortable pattern of good, old friends, despite the long time since we last met, despite babies we had birthed and the one I had buried. It was comfortable and easy, and I hope it isn't three years before we get together again. And I'm glad that the paralysis I had in getting in touch with her for so long didn't choke off a friendship of so many years.