I met my friend Muriel in 1972. I helped get her a part-time job at the place where I worked.
She was in her late forties at that time, a strikingly beautiful woman whose smile lit up the room. We started walking together at lunchtime on the days we overlapped at work. There weren't chic walking shoes then, so we both left a pair of clunky Wallabees in the office for our two-mile route. When we started, I had a two-year old and a newborn. She had raised four children, and she had seen everything. Needless to say she was an endless source of advice.
Muriel came to value my advice as well, and we became fast friends. After eight years and a few pair of Wallabees, I took a job elsewhere, but we still walked when we could. When she retired and moved to the Cape, she would take the bus to Boston and stay with me overnight. Her pajamas and a tooth brush were always waiting for her in our guest room.
Her overnight visits stopped after a while because her husband wasn't doing all that well. Eventually they moved to an assisted-living facility, and I heard little from her, until after her husband passed away, perhaps two years ago.
Recently, I've heard nothing, so I decided to investigate. I started with her eldest son whose phone number I actually had. The number was not in service. So I tried the online white pages and found a couple of people with his (not-unusual) name who lived in that area. One person's phone was out of service, but I did leave a message for the other even though his voice didn't sound familiar.
Sure enough, the guy called back. No, he wasn't Muriel's son, but he had met him a couple of times. No idea where he was now. Of course I tried the other three children, one of whom I actually knew pretty well, but the email address I had for her didn't work. I also failed to find either of the other two.
I tried calling the office of her retirement village, but could only get the voice mail of the sales department, and I am not so sure they would tell me anything about her anyway.
So today, I called the number I had for Muriel. I had hoped to talk to someone in her family first to see how she was doing, but that didn't work. I was anxious as the phone was ringing. I heard a computer-generated voice say. "Hello. No one is here to take your call. Please leave a message." I don't know if that number is still hers, but I left a message anyway.
I still miss her.