Victoria Noe

Award-winning Author, Speaker, Activist

A Birthday Reflection on Friends (Here and Not)

Jul 08, 2012 by Victoria Noe, in birthdays , Friend Grief , grieving
Today is one of those birthdays. You know the ones: they end in “0”.

We give them special significance, as if they mean something more than just the passing of one more year.

A little over ten years ago, I sat with my friend, Delle, at the end of year awards ceremony at our daughters’ grade school. Prize Day is the way Sacred Heart Schools end each year, formally moving up to the next grade, and publicly acknowledging academic and artistic achievements. Her daughter had just finished first grade; mine had just finished second grade.

I turned to her at one point and said, “I’m turning 50 next month and I don’t know what I want to do.”

Her eyes got big. “Oh! Have a party! That’s what I did!” She went on to tell me of the party she’d thrown for herself the previous November: just girlfriends. That sounded pretty good to me, so I stole her idea (steal from the best, that’s my motto).

After sending my husband and daughter out for the evening, my girlfriends and I (including one who drove up from St. Louis) gathered in my back yard for Oriental chicken salad, lots of desserts and cold drinks. We solved the problems of the world, as I recall, and laughed a lot while we did it.

These past ten years – and yes, I know, it’s partly a function of my age – I seem to have gone to a lot of funerals for friends. All were just about exactly my age.

I have to confess, I have not been looking forward to this birthday today. The number kind of catches in my throat, and I wonder if I’m supposed to be different now that I’m this new age.

Maybe it was seeing the AIDS Quilt in Washington this week, but I find myself thinking of those friends who didn’t make it to 60, or 50, or 40, or sometimes even 30. I wonder what my life would be like if they were still around. I know for sure what it’s been like without them.

So today I’m thinking of them, wishing they were actually here, to sit in the backyard with that now pleasant breeze, and laugh about life.

And grateful I knew them all.

And so for today, Sir Paul: