“She is a friend of my mind. She gather me, man. The pieces I am, she gather them and give them back to me in all the right order.”
—Toni Morrison, Beloved.
Today I learned that I lost another sister. She wasn't a blood sister; she was the girl who lived next door growing up, the girl with whom, except for family vacations, I spent every single day of my growing up from age 8 to 18 with, the girl I walked back and forth to grade, middle, and high school with, did homework around her big wooden round table with, the girl for whom I was maid of honor, godmother for her first-born, and the friend I considered my first BFF through decades. My mother and I took the train into Chicago to witness for Inge and her mom for their U.S. citizenship. My father walked her down the aisle at her wedding. We supported each other through the teen-age angsts and we played Bounce and Fly in the street with neighborhood boys and flirted with them and generally opined on our choices of crushes. She was at all the slumber parties and in the car with all the girls at the drive-in, where we might have sipped a beer or two, otherwise-angels that we were. Inge was a true Luddite, so we didn't communicate by email (yes, that's right - she had no email address!) or social network, but we managed to still talk on the phone a few times a year, despite our long distances and divergent paths. She was with me after my father died, and called me on the days my mother and sister died, and she called on my birthdays. She, with the pretty face, was a genuine, smart, witty and all-around authentic, beautiful person in spirit and soul, and I knew that even as a child. To grow up with a best friend like this is one of life's true blessings and I am thankful.
Rest in peace, my dear friend.