Back in college I was part of a threesome. We happened upon each other in a massive lecture hall on our very first day. I sat between Lisa, with her avalanche of brown curls, and Tim, with his preppy sweater and topsiders, and we all began to laugh.
Early on, it became apparent that Lisa was the studious one, impossibly beautiful. Tim–who somehow ran a large clothing manufacturer in his spare time–was always happy, always grinning. I was the one who worked out too much and wrote people’s essays for fun.
From a social standpoint, none of us really fit into this school. The other kids tacked the word “man” onto the end of every sentence and knew each other from childhood. The three of us were oddities – a cleancut mishmash of Jewish and WASP-iness.
After college, Tim and I somehow drifted apart. For 10 years we each got together with Lis separately, always meaning to make it a threesome again.
One night, a few Octobers back, Lis came to see my new house. She said goodnight to my kids in their darkened rooms. we went out and she bought us matching pink seahorses floating in beachy key chains. So we could remember how much we laughed that night.
A few weeks later, as I was getting ready for work, the radio announcer said, “…the body of a 38-year-old woman was found, murdered, in an office building in the Yorkville area…” Before he said her name, I knew it was Lisa. I looked at the seahorse, still on my counter, dropped my brush, and screamed.
The funeral was no small affair. All the news media were there–Lis was beautiful, successful, from a very prominent Canadian family–this murder shocked the entire city, if not the entire country.
Tim was the first one I found inside the funeral home. All the strength I might have shown in front of my kids vanished in his arms. We held each other up until the service began.
I’d never spent much time with Lisa’s mother prior to this. But in the hours, days, weeks, months that followed, both Tim and I spoke to her more and more. Not only because we knew she could have another taste of her daughter through our stories and memories, but because we found ourselves adoring this woman who had lived through the unthinkable.
Tim and I began taking Lisa’s mother out more often as the next few years passed, watching her find life, her ability to laugh, again. Sometimes we go to the cemetery and plant flowers, other times we take her for martinis, and every single time she thanks us for spending time with her. Then thanks us again. And again.
As if we’re doing her a favor.
But we aren’t. Spending an evening with Lisa’s mother, giggling over an inept waiter or cute picture of Lis, is a treat Tim and I cherish.
Laughing with my late friend’s mother is my secret indulgence.