For Pia

For Pia

When you turn 50, you will wake up one ordinary Sunday morning to learn through social media that one of your childhood classmates died during the night. While you slept in your trodden, lumpy bed next to your husband of 23 years, she succumbed into a cancerous unconsciousness and soundlessly slipped away.

You will remember how you were girls together, wearing your red plaid Catholic school skirts with navy blue knee-high socks and sensible brown loafers. How you sat in a row of schoolgirls on wooden benches in the chilly cement school yard eating the brown bag lunches that your mothers packed. How you came from the same trodden, lumpy little suburban town.

But you made it out, (or so you thought), catapulting like a skyrocket through the spit-coughing, head-swinging, attention-hiccupping, hustling city life of your 20s only to parachute-land with great intentionality into the suburbs in your 30s, which turned into the comforting orderliness of your 40s, which turned into, well, your 50s.

You became mothers, packing brown bag lunches; you became mortal. She more mortal than you, apparently.

That night you will take your golden retriever for a late-evening walk and watch the sun set over the local neighborhood hills: an orchestral riot of orange and red and yellow streaming over an otherwise mundane sky. You will contemplate the orchestral moments that have streamed through your otherwise mundane life, and your will stop and sigh so deeply as to hit the very core of the girl she was – this classmate of yours who slipped soundlessly away.

Although, at 50, you claim to be a woman of Godly faith, having parachute-landed in this ordinary, privileged life, you will still have moments of doubt (which is strange, because there will be this undeniably, divinely magnificent sunset presented to you). But still, you will whisper, “Lord, if you’re up there, please, take care of her.”

Her and she and you. That girl who once was.

Dear 19-Year-Old Me

Dear 19-Year-Old Me