The Cell Phone Challenge

Missing Muriel

I met my friend Muriel in 1972. At the time I was raising a new baby and a two-year old, working part-time and running a non-profit from home that helped women re-enter the workplace after raising their children.

Muriel was a client. It turns out she had just the skills needed by the place where I was working part-time, and I recommended her for the job. They were smart enough to hire this talented woman as head of communications. And so a wonderful friendship was born.

She was in her late forties with four kids almost on their own and therefore had the experience to solve my crisis du jour, always with good humor and good advice. We got in the habit of walking together at lunch time, sharing air time because kids may grow, but that doesn't mean you're done with their problems.

After several years, I moved on to another job, close enough so that we could continue to walk at lunch time, and we did that until she retired, now many years ago. She moved to Cape Cod, but would occasionally come up on the bus to visit and stay overnight. A big T-shirt and a tooth brush of hers lived in our guest room.

Now in her 80's, a couple of years ago, Muriel lost her husband of 60 years. I didn't even know about it until months later. She dropped out of my life. I missed her terribly, and I didn't know if she herself was ill or why we were out of touch.

This past weekend I mentioned to Peter that I had to find her or learn what happened to her, and I planned to try to contact one of her children for help. As of yesterday morning, I hadn't done so.

But something amazing happened at work. When I picked up the phone in my office yesterday, I heard Muriel's voice. I was almost in tears—so happy to hear from my beloved friend.

She said she hadn't been in touch because she had to get through the loss of her husband. But she has built a new life for herself, living in a retirement community. Her children have been wonderful, and she has made some good friends and is doing some writing. She has rented a little place near her childhood home on the Cape this summer, walking distance from the beach in one direction and the library in the other. She says it's perfect for her.

Once again, I am learning from her experience.


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