In 1990 I landed a job in a local school district to teach special needs students. The new hires met the newly hired principal (not the principal who hired us) near the end of August that year. Another teacher of students with special needs was hired along with me and from the moment we met we became the best of friends.
She and her husband and son lived within walking distance of our house (not that we walked there that often, but we could have) and Dean and her husband got along really well. We spent a good deal of time together. I was so happy to have a friend like her — a true best friend — after years of having few friends of my own (meaning not the wives of Dean’s male friends).
Their son loved Clare — he was 8 years older than her and thought of her more as a little sister than the child of his parent’s friends. When Andrew was born, he liked him too. And they liked him.
Then she and her husband divorced, and not long after that their son died from an extremely rare lung disease at age thirteen. She also moved to a different school and we saw less and less of her, even though she moved to a house a few blocks away from us. We moved from Alexandria to Bethesda — putting the beltway and a river between us. We got together once for drinks and I stopped by her house once and we reminisced about the good days. I emailed her a couple of times, sometimes she would answer, sometimes not. We spoke on the phone about ten years ago and promised to get keep in touch. We didn’t.
I always remember her son on his birthday, and often send her an email saying I am thinking about her. I did it this year (yesterday), expecting no reply — after all, I didn’t know if she still used that email address.
This afternoon I received a delightful email from her thanking me for my email and suggesting we see each other — she’d just retired from teaching and had more free time now.
I emailed her back and we’re set to take a walk together on Wednesday.