Splendid Friendships, Transformed by Love and Loss

If Alice of Wonderland ever grew up in the present day, she’d look like my friend Terri. I saw her for the first time in ages the weekend before last—she of the purple locks, John Fluevog fantasy-like footwear and a fairy tale dress that coordinated impeccably.

At first blush, there’s no way to tell we’d be friends. She’s a Southern gal who looks like a fashion plate even when she goes to the supermarket. It’s an artform, for her. I throw on clothes like a New York subway train rushing into the station, avoiding the mirror after a quick confirmation that I won’t scare anyone. Yet Terri is one of those people that I can see after a very long while and still feel a close connection as if only a day has passed. It has to do with humor and oddball sensibilities.

Maybe you’ve experienced how a little mental click can go off in your brain when you realize you’ve met someone that quite possibly falls in that lifetime-friendship category. That’s the kind of friendship between two characters in my sci-fi cyberpunk novel, THE JUICE. One is a tech-head rebel named Jarat, and the other is a wizardly genius called Thom.

It’s kind of fascinating—what different kinds of friends one can have. I once read a saying that some friends are like seasons, here for a little while and then gone. And there are friends who become like an extension of a (good) family—always in your corner.

Another type of friend emerged for me in recent months that feels so new, almost a phenomenon. And I felt it keenly over Memorial Day weekend during a New Orleans celebration of my husband, who passed away in March.

My sister-in-law, Gianna, had opened her big home for friends and family to gather. And boy, did they gather—from so many corners of America. A celebrated New Orleans vocalist dropped by unannounced to perform with the jazz pianist who was hired for the gig. The memorial was supposed to end at 5:30. The last guests left around 10.

At one point, during all the conversations, I felt David’s spirit saying, “I want to be there in person. There’s so much I would say.”

It was a masterpiece of a party, on top of another masterpiece event in New York about a month ago on City Island, orchestrated by David’s adored cousin, Lisa.

Before, during and after all the speeches about David at each celebration, so many people commented that David was like a brother to them. And now, in the bright light of David’s passing, so many of his friends have directed more attention on me. It’s not that I’m a symbol of him or a replacement. It’s more that our love for David binds us in new ways, empathy wrapped in memories wrapped in the sense (for some) that he is still with us in some form.

We hold each other in our hearts a little closer—with a deeper consciousness that life is so fragile. And though it may be pure imagining, I can almost hear David saying, “Take care of each other now, in ways that I can’t any longer.”

I like to think that we always will.

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