Friends in the time of Corona

Ninth in a series.

I’m letting Picture a Conversation cards inspire this ongoing series of essays. Martin captured this flock of gull friends soaring over the beach in Malibu. 

I am sure you’re missing your friends as much as I am. Zoom, Face-Time, What’s App, the phone. As good as they are all at helping me keep in touch, I await that irreplaceable feeling of being right there, walking side by side, sharing a meal across a table, having the physical proximity that allows me to see each of their expressions, the little sighs and gestures that are theirs and theirs alone. I miss my flock.

There is a silver lining to all of this. The pandemic, and its sidekick Zoom, are enabling me to be with a New York friend whose father has just died.  Had Covid-19 not turned the world upside down I would have called, written a note of condolence, and made a donation in his memory. The pandemic has allowed me to be, if not by my friend’s side, then beside her in a little Zoom box.   

I have known Marian for over 50 years. She and her sister took our hometown by storm with their zany accents and even zanier laughter when they moved from New York to south of the Mason-Dixon. We were in youth group all through high school and spent an entire summer together on a leadership experience in Israel in the early 70’s. Were it not for Marian, my entire life would have taken another trajectory. The summer we graduated college she introduced me to the “fabulous woman” she was dating. She and the fabulous woman broke up, but not before I met the fabulous woman’s brother. The fabulous woman has been my fabulous sister-in-law for 40 years.  

Our paths crossed and crisscrossed infrequently after college but whenever we saw each other the years fell away. Before we knew it, my own daughter had graduated college and was job hunting in New York. Marian offered her a job at her company as a replacement for a receptionist on maternity leave. 

Marian and I reconnected last fall at my sister-in-law’s wedding. She looked the same. I looked the same.  Once again, the decades slipped away as we caught up on one another’s lives. Her laugh hadn’t changed. Neither had her exuberance. As for the accent, I’ve been married to a New Yorker for so long that I couldn’t have heard it if I tried. We promised to keep in touch and this time around have kept that promise.

Last week I got word that Marian’s father died. In the middle of this pandemic. Burial and the seven-day mourning period of Shiva would be anything but the norm. No visitors. No mourner’s meal following the burial. No attending the burial. No standing with her family each evening to recite Kaddish while legions of friends surround them. 

Enter Zoom and the devotion of the rabbis and cantors who led a virtual minyan each evening. It has been a blessing to be with Marian.  To see her and her sister, albeit in their little Zoom boxes.  To see her mom whom I last saw in my teens. To extend sympathies across the miles. Marian and her family would not be mourning alone, at least not in these first raw days. 

It is good to soar with friends. I hope to again very very soon. We all do. Sometimes, though, when soaring isn’t possible, it is good simply to hover nearby on sorrow’s wings.

 

front row L to R:  yours truly, quite pregnant; by then my fabulous sister-in-law; my friend, Marian

 

Keep the conversation going. What does “soaring amongst your friends” look like?  How are you and your friends staying in touch during the pandemic. Learn more about Picture a Conversation here. In the coming week I’m going to experiment with holding an online Zoom conversation using one of the Picture a Conversation cards.  If you’d like to participate, let me know here.  Thank you!

 

 

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