We came to Chicago for her 60th birthday party. The invitation showed her child self in an Easter bonnet, with all the frills upon it. There was no doubt about her identity. She looks exactly the same.
She's always looked the same - taller and thinner and classier than I, but uninterested in those distinctions. She was Connecticut and Madison Avenue and boarding school. I was Long Island and the garment district and public schools. It didn't matter; we were friends.
The mother of three boys, she was always ready to advise on Little Cuter's attire. Some women are meant to mother little girls.... or meant to dress little girls, at least.... and she was certainly one. She put Little Cuter in one of my ribbed camisoles, wrapped a belt around her middle, and suddenly my 3 year old was stylin'. Without her, I would never have known that a white blouse over a black skirt could be my default outfit for any event. Look in my closet if you doubt that I believed her.
If she couldn't parent girls, then she would raise great husbands. Her well-mannered and thoughtful young men are the proof in the pudding. She did a good job, and, as the birthday video they created so eloquently told her, they love her more than she can ever know.
That's just what a mom wants to hear.
The eldest, Big Cuter's playgroup playmate and the reason we became friends 28 years ago, gave the opening toast and announced the big surprise - she and AdMan were getting married right then and there.
There was hooting and hollering. There was cheering and clapping. Most of all, there was joy. Joy on our faces and joy in our hearts.
He had asked her forever ago, and she's been thinking about it ever since, feeling neither pressure nor necessity. Life was good without a formal commitment. There was no reason to rush.
And then I got shot.
She says that our trauma made her confront the fragility of life. The randomness of the shooting reminded her than control is just an illusion. She decided to seize the moment.
Lots of wonderful things have happened as a result of the tragedy on January 8th. Schoolkids will have a new playground and smartboards in their classrooms. Mental health care will be available where it was absent before. Eight girls are playing hardball with the boys in the CDO Little League this season, with Christina as their inspiration. But this feels very special to me. This is a gift that my sorrow could give to my friends.
This brought joy.