Linda A. Dougherty
Copyright 2023 by Linda A. Dougherty
Photo by Marco Chilese on Unsplash.
June 2020, I wrote a short story in this publication about my high
school friend, Elzada and of my hopes to find her and close the
spiral of my age-old regrets. This is the ending of that story that
really began in 1969.
(Click here to read that story first.)
my life seems to circle backwards as it inches forward. Perhaps it is
the perspective of getting older…this wanting to tie up loose
ends, to right wrongs, to look backwards into the future of my past
and find out what happened.
me, it was a high school friend, Elzada. The last time I recall
seeing her was in high school in the spring of my freshman year in
1970. A local prestigious private Quaker school, The George School,
awarded her a scholarship for the next year.
smiling Elzada with bowed skinny legs was a frozen memory for fifty
years. Our friendship, a fossil buried deep in the mire of my
parents’ refusal to accept her as my friend because she was
and on for years, I would do a search online with no success. Fast
forward to June 2020. More bungled attempts to find the girl of my
past in the middle of a world gone upside down with COVID. It
finally occurred to me to email George School and see if they had
contact with her as an alumni. On June 15, 2020, I wrote my olive
branch to the administration, hoping they could help.
forwarded my email to her and on June 17, after over half a life time
of wondering where Elzada was, how her life turned out and even
hoping for reconnection, Elzada wrote me a short email.
am the Elzada you spoke of- Don’t worry, all is forgotten……
Let the past go and remember the good things and times.”
I can talk to you sometime. Your letter brought tears to my eyes.
Looking forward to hearing from you.”
Friday, June 19, the first of many weekly phone calls began. We
shared emails with our lives in pixels. And most of all we talked.
Fifty one years of chatter across decades and distance because I live
in Massachusetts now and she never wandered far from our home in
can’t believe you remembered me.”
“ How could I
forget you, Elzada? You were so friendly.”
recall of people and detail astounded me, week after week, as she
regaled me with endless tales of this or that person I knew from high
school. Somehow, despite moving to a different school she kept up
with a long list of friends. Even in her late sixties, she kept eight
address books and sent out 200 Christmas cards each year until her
sight faltered. Her circle of friends was huge and she remembered
details of them all.
typical phone conversation started with her slipping into nostalgia…
“do you remember so and so” or “Do you remember
when such and such happened?” My response was invariably, “no!” while I
sat in awe at her recall.
told me things I never knew about her when I was her fourteen year
things, deep things, hard things. But always, she landed on hope.
friends meant everything to me.” I’d let her down
because of my father’s prejudice, yet she never held it against
me. The Quaker philosophy threaded through her life as always
looked to the light.
June 24, 2020 Elzada sat COVID protocol six feet away from me on a
wooden bench under a spreading maple tree outside of her brick
apartment building in Langhorne, PA. Our eyes searched each other
over the rims of our masks as we looked for the girls we once were.
stood up, stepped back to remove my mask and grinned. “You
look exactly the same as you did in high school….the same
smile and eyes.”
pointed down at her legs- “they aren’t skinny
anymore…surprised you remembered I had skinny legs.”
spent an hour together under the blue cloudless skies. The breeze
blew gently around our words.
soon, my husband pulled our car into a nearby spot, got out, waving
and from a distance, introduced himself. Too soon, we left on the
way to go on our vacation.
phone chats wove bits of our past together week by week. I was
worried about my friend’s health. Heart disease, liver disease
and diabetes kept her sequestered, especially as a risk with COVID.
planned to get her first COVID vaccine. She was relieved and in a
happy mood in early March 2021. Then, she did not answer her cell
phone or land line phone day after day for several weeks. Her
brother messaged me in early April through Face Book to tell me she
had been found dead of an apparent heart attack on March 19.
enveloped my sadness…..thankfulness that I had found her and
enjoyed nine months with her. Thankfulness that I’d had many
questions answered. Thankfulness that there was nothing left unsaid
between us and fond memories eclipsed the hard memories of the past.
Thankfulness for my friend, Elzada, who never forgot me.
Click here to read the first story about Elzada.
of the message
won't know where to send it.)
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