Franny missed Marilyn every day. There is something about the first friend you make in a new place. The first uncomplicated friend, the first surprise friend. Leo had been there waiting, because of his connection to Franny’s brother. (I need to call him, Franny thought. It’s been too long since I talked to that brother of mine.) Marilyn, on the other had, was a pure gift from Franny’s new home.
She pushed her lap top back and closed it, stood, stretched, and went to the large window that looked out over the street. A gorgeous fall day beckoned, and she answered its call. Soon she was on the sidewalk, Precious on the leash at her side, shuffling their feet through great piles of leaves, the fleece of Franny’s jacket nearly as blue as the sky. Franny popped into the coffee shop to get something warm to drink, and Kassandra smiled a welcome.
“Peppermint tea?” Kassandra asked. That was Franny’s usual choice in the afternoon, her attempt to avoid caffeine late in the day, a not entirely successful tactic in her battle against insomnia. Franny checked the clock – yes, it was after noon already. “Sure,” she smiled back at the young barista.
The two had shared a few important days in the last while. That June wedding. The hospital.
And then, the funeral.
Celebration of life, Franny corrected herself. Marilyn hated funerals.
“Would you like me to cool it down a little?” Kassandra’s question brought Franny back to the moment.
“No, thanks. I’m going to walk for a while, and it’ll keep my hands warm.” Funny, how they chatted sometimes about the wedding, sometimes about the hospital, but never about the funeral. In fact, Franny realized, she’d never talked about the funeral with anyone. None of her other local acquaintances, not Kassandra, not Leo. I guess it’s just too soon to talk about something so sad, she mused as she gathered up her tea, warmth oozing through the cup and the little paper collar Kassandra slipped around the cup to protect her fingers from the hot water inside.
Don’t we all need a little extra buffer from life, Franny thought, stepping back out into the clear, cold air. Friends are like that. A good friend is like a paper collar around the cup holding the hot mess of your life.