I woke up this morning with the memory of a dream so vivid behind my eyes that I swore I had lived it. I had been standing talking to my friend Emily, who I haven’t seen in at least two years. I was thrilled to see her, and hugged her tight.
Emily and I met on the first day of the 6th grade, when her family moved onto my street. I was so excited to have another girl my age living within walking distance that I think I may have overwhelmed her with attention. She didn’t hold my boundless friendliness against me, and for years we walked to the bus stop together. In middle school I would pick her up, and in high school she’d come and knock on my door. We stayed close through high school, even when my family moved to another neighborhood.
Emily moved to Europe after college, and while I saw her occasionally over holidays, our friendship has drifted a bit over the five years. When I woke up with her image humming in my brain, I felt compelled to try and get in touch with her. This afternoon, I called her parents phone number, which I’ve had memorized since the first day we met. As I dialed the numbers, I prepared myself to have a friendly, chatty conversation with her mom. What I was not prepared for was hearing Emily’s voice on the other end of the line. I chattered away excitedly for a minute, telling her about the dream that had nudged me to call. She was shocked to hear from me, and said that she tried to get in touch a while back, but had only had the email address from my last job, so it had bounced back. She told me that it hadn’t been such a good year for her family. Her dad had died. I was speechless for a moment before belated words of condolence tumbled from my throat. We spent another fifteen minutes on the phone, catching up, exchanging contact information and promising to stay in touch.
I’ve spent all day thinking about Emily and her family. Especially her dad. I remember the summer before we started high school, he went with the two of us as we did a test run of the public bus we would take to school, just to make sure we knew where we were going and that we felt safe. I remember him working in his yard, walking their family dogs and staying in the background at birthday parties and sleepovers. I can mentally conjure the sound of his voice and his image in an instant. I find it really difficult to believe that he’s gone.