Essay: Saying Hello

Feb 8, 2019

I am leaving a store when I notice the woman in front of me. There is something familiar in her walk and then I know who she is—a friend from long ago.


I should say hello but I’m in a hurry. She’s probably in a hurry, too, and there’s no need to bother. She hasn’t seen me yet and I can let it go. We’re out the door now and suddenly I change my mind. “Linda,” I say, and she turns around.

“Karen!”

We hug each other and stand in the sunshine to exchange greetings. But even though she’s smiling, I see something else in her face and she confides that her husband moved out a year ago. I am stunned. 

She and Jerry had one of those enduring marriages I’ve always admired, always envied. And before I can even respond, she tells me her brother has just died and her daughter  moved away. “You’ve been through a lot,” I say.

 

“It was a long winter,” she says. “Don’t you think it was a long winter?”

 

We talk for twenty minutes, more than we’ve talked in years, more than she’s ever talked to me before. And I think about how I almost didn’t say hello.

 

“Let’s get together,” I say, and hug her again.