Today I met a friend at a coffee shop to chat a bit and then check out the bookstore nextdoor. We could easily spend all day searching through books and finding hidden gems in books we’ve come to love. We are both in a Book Club that is more of a Women’s Club with a serious love of books. We check in with each other, offer support and encouragement, all the lovely things that good friends do. I’m glad for the times we get together to lift each other up.
The post above was written pre-pandemic. How I miss perusing the shelves in Barnes and Noble, the upstairs cafe, a shared scone, even the escalator.
I thought I heard a knock on my front door. I opened the door to find my friend Gina who I hadn’t seen in two years. The smeared mascara and bloodshot eyes told me she needed help. She refused to come in, so I suggested that we take a drive along the coast and she could talk to me.
I told her how glad I was to see her and that I want to help if something is wrong. She was slow to open up, but before she did, she asked me to pull over. I parked in the beach parking lot away from other cars. She began, “I’ve been married twenty nine years and just learned that my husband has been carrying on with a woman from work.” She started to cry again. “It gets worse. She’s pregnant and he wants a divorce.” In my usual caustic manner I said, ” Then give him one.” She told me how complicated it was and that the kids would suffer. I reminded her that her “kids” were nineteen and twenty three. She continued by sharing her feelings of worthlessness and envy. I sat and listened, offering Kleenex and lame words of encouragement. Then it hit me. I started up the car and drove to my favorite ice cream parlor. We got out and walked to the back where there is a bench. I ordered for the two of us. I told Gina that I don’t have any solutions for all that is happening in her life at the moment. I shared my only tidbit of wisdom; “Ice cream on a cone always makes things better.” Gina smiled.
I could almost see my old friend. Then she held up the cone and I noticed a bandage wrapped around her wrist.
I asked what that was, knowing perfectly well that she’d attempted suicide. She looked at me and said, ” I knew I had to get help and I just kept driving until I came to your house.” I told her how honored I felt that she trusted me with her pain. I told her that I have been through many things in my own life that took me to the edge, but that “my temporary situation must not end in a permanent way. Those kids you worry about would be without their mother and you would never see your grandkids who have yet to be born.” I encouraged her to seek a professional who would do more than take her for an ice cream cone. Gina cried and thanked me for being a friend. As I drove home I asked her to look at my playlist to pick out a good song. She chose, “You’ve Got a Friend” by James Taylor. Gina said she will make an appointment with a counselor to sift through all the layers of pain to get some guidance. She hugged me extra close and drove off. I hoped she would also pick up some ice cream on the way home.
Update: Gina went back to college, got a teaching credential, and teaches a special education class. She is divorced, has an affectionate boyfriend, and has two grandchildren and one great-grandchild. She loves ice cream and remains a good friend.