FIRST: If we were friends, I mean the kind of friends who lived in the same town or close-by, and saw each other often…met for coffee at least once a week we’d know a lot more about each other. Or, if we had grown up together, had feather-flying pillow fights at sleepovers, or spent tongue-wagging gossipy hours on the telephone as teenagers, we’d certainly know our deepest secrets.

Let us say we are those long-time friends and you are going to understand…

I’m going home tomorrow…to England. This trip has been planned since the last trip over…two years ago. My friend Janie (whose husband always regrets not coming with us) and I are travelling with best friends I met while I lived in London. If you could meet Rosie and Keith, Penny and Stephen, you’d love them, too. It will be three weeks of sharing time together with walks, discovery of places we have never been, or in Rosie’s case re-visiting a pub on the Norwich coast her Auntie owned a long time ago. Or Stephen’s wish to go to Houghton Hall to see a marvelous once in a lifetime art exhibit. We’ll spar for time in our cottage kitchens cooking simple but grand meals and take turns with the washing up. We will be together.

We will be family….

A homecoming for all of us. You understand.

We have cottages let. We have maps for walks on the Norfolk Broads. And…there is an entire North Sea to look at. Did I mention Rosie has found a recipe for Rock Cakes…my favourite. We shall be baking! And we’ll probably buy some Eccles Cakes for pure pleasure. Mine. Mostly. Everyone gets to have their favourites: Keith loves his Daily Mail rag sheet (inside joke between friends) and sausage pasty, and Stephen is quite fond of pasta and being in charge…but only when we allow him to be in charge. You see, it really is going to be a three-week sleepover, and if we, you and I,  were friends..I mean the kind of friends who lived in the same town…met for coffee…you’d want to come, too.

You can come but…only in spirit and mind. I’ll think about you and bore you to tears with photos and long-into-the-night conversations when I come back. Granted…it won’t be the same. It never is. I know you understand.

LAST: Mother died this Sunday past. If we were friends…really really good and long-time friends, you’d know that Mother was difficult. She was conflicted and on good days…angry. She was not able to give large or larger gifts. She parsed out small ones. I cherish the few. That’s a good word: cherish.

My friend, James, gave me a gift several months ago. It is a photograph he took months ago that I’ve redrawn…much like OUR BENCH. This pen and ink drawing is James’s and my bench but a different view. (He and I call this bench “ours” only because we can.) We’ve chatted and with his permission I can share the drawing with you. Honestly, it is not very good…it was penned between coming and going to hospital to be with Mother. Thank you, James.

Janie, Rosie, Keith and I are going to sit on that bench and eat our take-away lunch. Perhaps James can join us if he’s not working. I am hoping our lunch will include more Rock or Eccles Cakes and, of course, no rain. Regardless, we will enjoy the view and celebrate loving friends and…peace.

Let us say you and I are, indeed, long-time friends and you are going to understand when I ask for no comments. James has promised me a hug and I know it will be from all of you. That is what family and friends give each other…gifts. Large and larger.

We’ll have drinks and that sleepover when I get back…











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