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Essays by Karen Anderson: Address Book

Illustration by Kacie Brown

The truth is I need a new address book. The one I’m using is full of people who aren’t even in my life anymore. Chuck and Cathy, for example, are listed as if they were still a couple. “We’ll stay in touch,” we said when they divorced. Then I divorced and we went in different directions.

Next, I see Erich’s name, my daughter’s first true love who died of cancer before he finished college. I told him I would start a scholarship in his name.

Susan was my hairdresser, killed in a car crash at age 50. Every morning when I wash my hair, I remember her advice about shampoo. “You just need a small amount,” she said, pointing at the palm of her hand, “about the size of a dime.”

And, there’s the name of a man I used to be in love with. It was too complicated to continue and too wonderful to let go—but we did.

I need a new address book but if I got one, Erich wouldn’t be in it or Susan or all those people I’ve loved and lost. Coming upon them this way, almost by chance, it seems as if they’re still here.

Karen Anderson contributes "Essays by Karen Anderson" to Interlochen Public Radio.