A very dear friend of mine passed away a few months ago. It hit me hard. Very hard.
Rose and I were not your typical friends. We didn't meet in college or at work or outside school or even the playground. She was my mother- in-law's neighbor in New York, and we were about 50 years apart in age. Often when dropping my girls off at my mother-in-law's house on my way to work, I would see Rose.
I was always in a hurry so our conversations were brief, sometimes no more than a hello! But when I did have time to talk, she loved to talk about my work and the news stories I covered. She also complimented my girls and was amazed at how fast they were growing up.
In the summer of 2011, I was suddenly not working, it was the first time I had a summer off since I was a teenager! At first I found it hard to adjust to not working. Then I realized I had all this wonderful time to spend with my girls. Boy, did we have some fun!
Now when I would run into Rose I was relaxed and could chat a little longer. I quickly realized that Rose was a very special lady, and I looked forward to our talks. Then Rose informed me one day she would be moving. After living nearly her whole life in New York City, she was moving to upstate New York.
She was excited about her move and nervous at the same time. Not too long after, I landed an anchor job at WRAL. I, too, was moving. We promised to keep in touch, and we did the old fashioned way with letters and cards. When I first moved to Raleigh, I was here alone and I commuted back to New York City every weekend or every other weekend. It was a brutal schedule!
Rose was such a great friend to me during this transition period. I so looked forward to her cards, which often included a picture. She would tell me all about her new adventures. I would share mine.
The letter writing continued for almost three years. Every holiday was acknowledged with a card. This past Easter, I was out of town, but before I left I wrote to Rose letting her know how things were going in North Carolina and I sent a picture of my gorgeous girls. When I got back, life was busy. Too busy!
Everyday though I had this nagging thought, wondering why I hadn't heard from Rose. I think, deep down inside I knew. As the days turned into weeks, I knew.
So one day, I sat down at the computer and I googled her name, and there it was. Rose was gone. The next few days were a blur. I got through work and put a face on things. I shared the news of Rose's passing with my girls. They too were upset. They knew how important Rose was to me. That's when my daughter said, "Mom it's going to be OK. Just think. Rose can look over you now and watch out for you!"
Over the summer, I received a beautiful letter from Rose's niece. She told me how much Rose loved me, enjoyed our friendship, letters and pictures. A dear friend recently said to me, stay open to friendships with everyone around you. When you do, age doesn't matter, the relationship does.
Jackie is the mom of a tween and a teen. She is an anchor for WRAL-TV. Find her here on Go Ask Mom monthly and on her Facebook page.