Thinking Aloud Blog

This is an excerpt from my upcoming memoir (more on that soon). It was one that did not get into the final manuscript which meant I wasn’t able to honor my friendship with Josie in the detail I would have liked. So, I share with you my remembrances of the life we shared together.

Honoring Josie

Dearest Josie,

I miss you dear friend.

I sat with you at your bedside. At 52, you were no longer the loud and outrageous friend I remembered. We laughed at our childhood passions. But we were not eight or eleven, and you were losing the battle of time.

You are a memory of my childhood in the orphanage. Of little girls being tough, without mothers to lean on, to hold our hands, to hug us when we faltered. Two mothers who died. Your mother in childbirth; mine when I was six. Two little girls with fathers who loved us, but who could not care for us.

I miss you dear friend.

Home Kids we were called by outsiders. The silly, fearless things we did. Stealing candy and jewelry from Woolworth’s department store – so we could fit in with those kids who had parents and homes. Fighting over the same boy – Stanley. I had him first. You had him next.

The misspelled gossipy letters you sent me at age 12. Letters decorated with the colors of the lipstick you wore – to the Home Kid who went home to dad, from the Home Kid who stayed.

I miss you dear friend.

Your indelible spirit to survive, your Bette Midler energy, your strong will, bubbling through and shared with family and friends.

You couldn’t die until your daughters settled their lives. But you did. You wanted more time to help them develop trust in life. More time to say I love you. More time to make up for the mishaps of mothering.

I miss you dear friend.

I sat with you at your bedside. You handed me your watch, afraid to look at time. Angry at the watch, at yourself, because you couldn’t stop time. The watch had ropes of silver twisting around my wrist, holding time together. Years before it was a remembrance of good times. Once your illness took hold, it became a chain strangling the heartbeat out of you.

You mainly slept, your thoughts confused by the morphine. I sat holding your hand, felt the tempo of your pulse, felt the ticking on my wrist. The movement of the small hand reminded me that time is swift. Even when it teases with its slow movement, it deceives.

I saw the lost little girl in your loud voice. I smiled at your outrageousness. I laughed at your jokes. I cringed at your tactlessness. I cried with your fear.

I saw the Jewish survivor in your courage to cope with so much loss – and in your fight to live fully and generously through years of cancer, the shooting death of your husband, the earthquake decimating your home.

I miss you dear friend.

My phone does not ring with your laughter, but my heart always hears you.

You have shed the body that is too ill to hold your spirit. But I know your spirit continues its learning and sharing on your next journey, just as your spirit surrounds those who loved you.

You have not died my friend. You have just moved on. Bon voyage.

And until we meet again, I say Shalom and L’Chaim.

Forever, your Home Kid sister, Roberta

2021 © Roberta S. Kuriloff