Get ready to travel back in time as author Marlene Klotz shares this wonderful story of friendship…enjoy!

We were the Big-Hair Babes of Valley Stream

I was pushing a baby carriage the first time I met Henrietta. Busy unloading the trunk of her car, she looked up,  gave me a grin and said, “Hi.” That simple greeting was the start of a friendship that would carry us through forty years of good times and bad, of childhood diseases, burnt dinners, graduations and even weddings . While our children were growing up together,Henrietta and I shopped together, lunched together,  enjoyed the same things, laughed at the same things, cried over the same movies and despite all these similiaries, looked like a mismatched salt and pepper shaker set. I had the Mediterranean look of dark eyes and olive skin, and at times would allow troubles to settle over my shoulders like a melancholy cloak. Henrietts was a blonde, blue-eyed bundle of exhuberance who with a shrug shed troubles like a snake sheds its skin.

Henrietta and I swore that we would be friends forever…regardless of circumstances or distance. Laughingly she said, “We’ll never be further apart than the telephone or an airplane trip.” We imagined ourselves, as two silver-haired little old ladies meeting for lunch or afternoon tea as we discussed the latestdevelopment in  arthritis medication and  exchanged pictures of the grandchildren that were still to come. Yes, we vowed, we would be friends forever.

It was a time for partying with pals

Death was the one thing Henrietta and I never counted on. The cruel hand of pancreatic cancer took Henrietta within five weeks. It happened so quickly that I was left wandering around in a daze, knowing but not believing she was gone. A few weeks after her death we were getting ready for the trip to Florida, but I couldn’t leave without saying goodbye to Henrietta. I stopped packed, picked a bouquet from my garden and drove to the cemetary.

By the time I arrived the sun had fallen behind a cloud, the day had grown dark and windy, seemingly to echo what I was feeling inside. Fearing the flowers would blow away, I picked up a stone and gouged a hole in the earth to hold the flowers more securely. I brushed my hand across the letters of Henrietta’s name and began to cry. I can’t say how long I sat there, but darkness settled into the sky and although the pathway was barely visible I could see Henrietta all around me. I could hear her laugh, feel her arm touching mine and hear her soft words of sympathy trying to console me.

The next day I discovered my reading glasses were missing. Like most people, I began to retrace my steps. They weren’t on the kitchen counter, the nightstand, alongside the telephone or next to the bathroom sink…that left just one place to look.

The funny thing about friendship is that it transcends all barriers, Henrietta was a Catholic and although I am Jewish I found that for the entire drive back to the cemetary I was repeating the prayer request she had taught me…and feel free to laugh out loud, because this is one every good Catholic knows…Tony, Tony, look around, something’s lost and must be found!  Of course, the Tony is Henrietta’s Saint Anthony, the Patron Saint of Lost Things. When I arrived at the gravesite my glasses were lying there, right beside the flowers which were as fresh as the moment I had picked them. It was then that I knew I had not lost Henrietta, she is still with me and will be for as long as I live. That, I suppose, is the miracle of friendship.

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