Today is the last evening I have to myself. I pick up Mini-me from camp tomorrow morning (can’t wait!) It’s been a few crazy weeks at work and tonight will likely be spent having a few cocktails with a good friend. As delightful as that will be, what I’d really like to do is talk to Rona. You see today marks 15 years that she has been gone.
And, as much as I would really like to sit at a bar and have a cocktail and talk to Rona, I’m reasonably sure that talking and laughing out loud with myself – laughing so hard I may snort – would all be frowned upon. And just saying the words in my head doesn’t seem the same. So, I will write her a letter.
How the hell are you? I miss you like crazy. Life has been good, bad and all the stuff in between. There is much to tell you and much I want to know. I have so many questions and while I know you don’t have all the answers, you make me think differently about things and often, offer some twisted humor to put it all in perspective.
Mini-me is growing quickly – she would certainly be your shopping buddy. Girlfriend loves a good bargain. While I never forget I’m her parent, she can be quite the pal; you would love that and she would love her tante Rona. She loves Hebrew and Sunday school – the ritual and tradition, learning the songs and taking pride in writing Hebrew words. I never had that background but know it was so important to you. Each week it reinforces that giving her your Hebrew name honors you in the best possible way. You will be there with her as she experiences each new rite of passage – you will be honored. You will be remembered.
My family is fine – growing, changing, and moving but all are healthy and reasonably happy. I’m learning to be simply grateful that I have such a great relationship with my siblings and their families. To take things as they are and put much less stock in what they think. After all, they have no choice but to be related to me and for the most part, love me as I am. I miss my folks terribly. I imagine you miss your mom, too – and that your dad is near you, lecturing everyone on exactly how fast they should drive on any given road. I miss our talks about our parents – what drove us crazy and our fear of turning into them. Guess what? That shit happens.
My friends are good, great and everything else. Neiman just had another clean scan – remaining cancer free two years to the day after her diagnosis. And no, it doesn’t escape me that the date of her diagnosis is the date of your death. This date always feels a bit “off” to me. This time of year is crazy for me at work – it helps to keep my mind busy but weird thoughts creep in and I never feel quite like myself.
I’ve been lucky to have a summer of great time with friends both behind and in front of me. Geek and Kooky were here a few weeks back – good times spent poolside and the cool of the house. I spent a weekend in the mountains with Belle, Handy and our sweet kids - so nice to get away and have a chance to really just visit without worrying from moving from point a to point b. I am taking Mini-Me and my dear friends Geek and Kooky to Bethany next month – and can only hope they embrace the sand, surf, Nic-o-bolis and Thrashers fries as much as you and I did. I will visit old friends, see old hangouts and drive roads once so familiar. This trip will be full of memories as I introduce Mini-Me to my old world, one in which you were such a central character. I will miss you but have a feeling you’ll be along for the ride.
Neiman visited me last weekend – a grown-up few days of shopping, eating, drinking and just visiting. Bless her for being such a good sport and visiting me in the summer, when my town feels like the surface of the sun. And Runner will visit again this summer with the youngest in her flock. You know, Ro – Runner has not aged one bit. It’s most infuriating. You were one of the few that was never surprised by my long-lasting friendship with her. She’s become the religious compass that you once were and I’m constantly reminded of you when I go to her with all my Jewish questions – be it political, religious or a new recipe to get me through one more Passover.
Who are you hanging out with up there? Are you sharing scotch and off-color jokes with my dad? Is my mom complimenting your always perfect hair? Are you having coffee with her and Big Susan? Is Jack cooking for you, offering to cook for you or making pickles? Do you see some of our old classmates and reminisce about the old days?
I miss you Rona. I miss our talks. I miss gossiping over California Chicken Salads (and can you believe White Flint is gone?) It never mattered whether we connected on the phone, with a card or letter (days long before the immediacy of email or texting) or were face-to-face in one of our regular haunts. We could be chatting, laughing or sitting in comfortable silence. It all worked. No words were ever necessary.
Except for now. Rarely a day goes by when something does not make me think of you. I miss you. More than you will ever know.