Those who know Carol and her gift for friendship will not be surprised at the high frequency friendship rate of our US trip. The first two nights friends hosted us in their homes. The third day I had to give a talk at a retirement complex where several friends live. Beforehand the organizer of the meeting invited us to lunch with his wife. By email another friend there invited us to lunch and planned for a group of five. Unfortunately, our reply was lost in the ether and original lunch for two mushroomed as plans merged, other friends joined us, and eventually eleven of us sat down. We were the common link because many did not know each other. It was utterly joyful.
And so it has continued day after day. One group (originally called First Friday about which I have posted before) hosted a special night. Another group (originally called the Tuesday Wheaton group) met for another evening. It has been gloriously humbling that so many people have wanted to see us. Well, it's seeing Carol really.
And to prove exactly that point - on Wednesday I had a free morning and Carol suggested we return to the hospital where she was palliative care visitor for 10 years. Apart from taking 25 minutes finding a parking space, the welcome was overwhelming. Friends greeted Carol like long-lost soulmates - which they are. Lunch at the cafeteria with special friends was prefaced by the man on the cash desk who asked Carol where she had been. 'I've missed you,' he said. Surprised that four years later he still remembered her, she commented on his memory. 'I may be losing my hair', he replied,'but I've not lost my memory, honey!' Walking around the hospital several others remembered her and back in the Volunteers Office the hugs and kisses were ecstatic. It made me realize just how valuable Carol's work and presence had been, as I trailed in her shadow. Wonderful.
And, guess what? At least six of these friends are visiting us in Cambridge. Three have made specific plans and others are equally decided. I say at least six because several others have also said they are coming. But that's friendship, isn't it? We just hope they don't all coincide!