This was published a year ago under the title “Beth”. It recounted a wonderful friendship. Yesterday Beth began her journey into the great mystery, from complications of a 15 year battle with breast cancer. Her place in my heart is secure. She travels now, inside me, and many others.
Beth is one of my friends from college days. She’s been there with me through a lot of interesting experiences. She was a bridesmaid in my wedding. She is godmother to my middle son. She and I have stood before thousands of paintings and talked about what we saw. We have looked at the ocean together for hours with or without conversation. Not since Chapel Hill days have we lived near one another, but that hasn’t kept us from staying connected. Some of my favorite Beth memories are from the times she lived in Maryland near DC. We would sometimes stay at her house, and sometimes in the city, abandoning our children to other people’s care so we could go to museums all day, seek out adventure-dining and funky thrift shops. I’ve forgotten more days than most people have lived, but it seems like I remember all the times I ever spent with Beth.
This entry is in tribute to Beth’s influence on me. One of my earliest memories with Beth is one afternoon in our early twenties when we took a blanket and some snacks out to the reservoir in Chapel Hill. We found a remote spot beside the water and sat there enjoying the fall day, the lake and sky. Beth produced a notebook in which she started writing. In my memory it was a book about ideas, goals and inspiration. I was so moved by her purposefulness. She was the first young person I’d ever known who even at twenty-something was living an examined life. That’s probably where my adult notebook-keeping habit came from. Now many years later I have several well-worn volumes I use to give myself organization and direction.
Beth and I have just returned from a weekend at the beach. It was a perfect beginning of November experience. It was sunny and warm enough that we sat beside the ocean for two days– almost all day long. The cooler weather had inspired the wildlife and so our entertainment was schools of porpoises cutting through the water. At times hundreds of birds converged on shallow areas in the surf . There was a dead octopus on the beach we could examine at our leisure. We were small and the vista was large. We were quiet and it was loud. We kept the doors open so we could hear the surf all night. I picked up blue crabs at the fish market because I will pay to watch Beth eat a blue crab. After years of living in Maryland she is semi-professional. If I think about it for more than a minute, I can be back there with Beth, examining our lives under the big blue dome of the sky.