“Old Friends are the Best Friends,” Watercolors by Margaret Donat
My husband and I moved from the home where we raised our two children. We left them behind. They were excited to start their new lives, new jobs and independent lifestyles. While I was excited for our new adventure, the reality that we were 700 miles away from our adult children caught me off guard. How could I not know how much I would miss them?
My world had narrowed. Not only did I miss my children, but my good friends: other women that I could call on whenever I need a shoulder to cry on, laugh or commiserate with about any topic.
I needed a sympathetic ear. I needed a good woman.
I wrote this lament back in 1993, two months after the move.
Looking for a Good Woman
I need a good woman. She can be any age, although closer to my own is best. Any color, religion. She can be short or tall, thin or fat. Just so she’s sympathetic. But then most women are.
We will meet by chance and she will look at me and cluck her tongue for she will see my need. Yes, I know for I was there too, she will think. She won’t be patronizing or condescending. She will listen to my woes silently, shaking her head in recognition of universal longing and grief. She will recognize herself: her own past yearning, her own departure into another realm of existence—not without sorrow or pain. She’s been through it. She empathizes.
“No, you are not silly to cry, even at inappropriate times. Best to grieve, it will help with the letting go.”
She will not be like him who sternly gazes at me while I cry bitterly over multiple losses, while at the same time, I list the numerous merits of our move. “Can’t you get your emotions under control?”
“But at what cost?” I ask. Finding a ragged teddy bear, an old baby sweater, a second grade poem to mom brings the tightness to my throat and tears spring up but dare not spill over.
But the good woman will know there is a need to grieve for all that is gone. She will know it isn’t a weakness to miss what once was and can be no more. She will know the tears will dry in good time and life will move forward. And she knows as I do, that loss makes for strength and change turns into opportunities.
As I cry, she will remain silent until my breathing slows and my tears cease. Then she will take my hand and lead me to her kitchen. “Let’s have a cup of tea and a piece of cake.”