I hadn't seen Ann-Marie for three years, maybe. We used to talk fairly often, go for walks in the Arboretum with my dog, but she moved to Texas with her husband five or six years ago to go to graduate school. She finished that, started teaching. They bought a house, started fixing it up. I knew pretty much about what was going on for most of that time, knew when her son got married, what job he had, what his wife was doing. And I'd sort of followed the e-mails about the shoulder operation she had a year or so ago, but didn't pay all that much attention.
And then I lost track of everything last winter, didn't pay attention to the group Christmas letter she sent, generally ignored a whole lot of things and people in my life, including the fact that she'd been very sick. I expect myself to write cards and e-mails, to make phone calls, to express care about friends and friendship, but I didn't do any of that. It all passed under the radar of my consciousness.
However, I got to see Ann-Marie when she just visited, to have a long time sitting in Au Bon Pain and to wander around some crazy second hand store that had the most incredibly expensive clothes. And I got to apologize for having ignored her. I would have been mad at me, I have to say, but she wasn't. I'm glad.
Today when I went to have blood drawn for the yearly physical exam, I asked the woman doing it if she'd tell me a good story. She understood by my request that I was anxious. It never hurts and the whole thing is over in two minutes, but I wanted a story and she said she didn't have any good ones. Yesterday she'd learned that a friend of hers, a thirty-year-old guy, who had been in the hospital for a week, had died. His mother had died a year and a half ago and he seemed to take that to heart, she said, but.... He'd lived with her aunt at some point, so he was family, and she just couldn't get over the fact that he'd died. "We're all going to die," she said, "That's a fact, but..."