Company's coming and so is spring, and thank God for that because that's what I promised when I begged and cajoled my best bud into making the March trek from Massachusetts to Florida even though she had a few misgivings this time around.
But skipping out on our annual fun just wasn't an option, proving once again that she is the best kind of friend — the kind of kinship that has endured over time and distance.
As friends of old, we have our share of milestones; a history that dates to P.K. (pre-kids) and the wilder years before we wised up and eased ourselves into the more domestic routines of married life.
I was pregnant with my first, she with her second in November 1982. That's a sight captured forever in a snapshot that comes out on occasion so we can laugh about our matching swelling profiles against a New England fall backdrop.
After that came christenings and kiddie birthday parties; swimming lessons at the town pool. We shared summer jaunts to the beach, the local fair and the Fourth of July that we always celebrated together complete with parade and backyard barbecue. Best of all were the simple times spent chatting over cups of coffee at one or the other's kitchen table while our kids played Barbies or Wiffle ball outside.
Bad times come with the good, and so she was around to see me through some of those; my mother's debilitating illness and her death in the spring of 1985, and a few years after that, when my eldest daughter took a similar path and I was living in the hazy existence that new grief brings.
While other friends moved on or fell by the wayside, my best bud remained steadfast in the years since that St. Patrick's Day in 1991. That was the day I flew out of Logan Airport with a newborn babe in my lap just a week after my husband and son had embarked on a life-changing road trip south in a rental truck jammed with all our belongings.
My family was to meet up in Florida to make a fresh start and so my friend and I said our goodbyes and made a promise to stay close no matter what. We did, keeping up through "nights and weekend" telephone chats in the days before cell phones evolved with all those "friends and family" plans. And of course there were the random trips taken north and south where we stayed in each other's houses and never had to catch up because we already knew what was going on in each other's lives.
Now, like many in the sandwich generation, my friend has been racking up more than her share of points in the Holmes and Rahe Stress Scale. In between the working hours, she looks after aging parents, members of the Greatest Generation with dimming faculties who have come to depend on her to take care of medical appointments, their finances and daily meals. Her soon-to-be wed Generation Y daughter is in the middle of planning a gala affair that has my friend wondering about the fuss over pricey chair covers for the reception. Top it off with a little arthroscopic surgery on an aging knee that literally knocked her off her feet about a month ago.
That failing knee, it turns out, ended up being her golden ticket. A fortuitous bounce, so to speak — a reason to get away from it all.
While I can't be there to help, it appears that the distance between us offers a silver lining.
"Come recuperate in Florida. It'll be good for you," I said, promising up the middle child's comfy bed, homemade chicken marsala, rehab walks at Honeymoon Island and other things I have no control of.
Like warm, tropical temps.
Okay, so I was sweating it out over that one — especially during last week's lingering chill that had beach visits looking like a long shot as weather people throughout Florida babbled on about the coldest winter in three decades.
But now the forecast is spring break perfection. It looks to be somewhere in the mid 70s, in fact, by the time my best bud touches down at TIA.
Another promise kept.
Michele Miller can be reached at miller@sptimes or at (727) 869-6251.