My Friend

We met when she was going through a divorce and I’d been single a number of years.  A mutual friend brought her to a jam session.  Back in that day, if you could bang pots and pans together, you could call yourself a musician.  We used the equipment of a local church (I think the pastor thought he was saving our poor souls).  On the third Saturday of every month, we’d set up microphones and speakers and then just have at it for a couple of hours.  Sometimes I’d thump away on a keyboard, but mostly I sang.  We did the old classics … James Taylor, a little Stevie Nicks, a lot of the Eagles.  We were worse than any teenager’s garage band — too old to be wanna-be’s, too horrid to be has-been’s, too enthusiastic to do anything but have fun.  The “band members” were a revolving sort; we never knew who would show up.  Sometimes we had nothing but electric guitars, sometimes three drummers taking turns on one kit, usually a keyboardist or two would arrive, and there was always at least one beginning acoustic guitarist.  The rest of us were all singers of some sort and range.  Some could even carry a tune.

That particular Saturday, after our mutual friend introduced us and the woman shyly shook my hand, I suggested we sit in the pews rather than storm the stage.  That was the ticket!  At the start of the first song (most likely one of our twelve versions of Hotel California) the quiet woman with thick dark hair and that freshly-wounded look of the newly-single began to sing.  It was like I was hearing my own voice!  We were … beat for beat, measure for measure … indistinguishable from the other.  Soon, we were laughing about men and high-fiving our way through song after song.

At the end of the jam, we exchanged work emails and, not long after, began a friendship like no other.  We discovered we both wrote poetry and soon collaborated on the worst collection of “hurt-dumping” poetry ever contrived.  We listened to each other through our “getting-back-on-the-horse” days as we tried out our meager dating skills.  We moved states away, only to return, then move again.  Regardless the distance, we’ve always stayed in touch via email or phone.  She was my maid of honor when Dan and I got married.  When she at last found the love of her life, she made certain I approved before she moved forward.

We’re now crazy happy with our respective husbands and families.  She became a successful executive.  I went on to write things.  We still sing …..

… Except for today.  Today my friend undergoes a very scary biopsy for breast cancer.

We’ll sing again tomorrow, but today — just for today — I’m lighting a candle and holding my breath.


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