mothers, daughters, brothers, sisters, friends

I include this photo because it’s always nice to have a picture when you hear a story about someone.
But you’re not allowed to hate Cindy because she’s beautiful. Even after you learn that she’s 48,
even when I tell you that she got IDed for matches– matches! because you need to be 15 to buy them–
just last summer.

Cindy and I have always done things step in step. We were pregnant together when I was expecting Ben and had our babies just a few weeks apart (her second, my first); we squirmed through a nursing class together and shopped for little Osh Kosh overalls and walked stroller by stroller to the park.

My family grew to five boys and Cindy’s to three. We scoffed at people who told us we needed baby girls because we adored our little men. Both of our families had moved a few times by then but our friendship remained firm.

And then, I had Mary. Five months later, Cindy showed up on my doorstep with her miraculous adopted baby girl.

We’ve both been crazy people ever since. Ridiculous as Mary’s closet is, Isabelle’s outdoes it. They go to dance class together and play house and beg for cupcakes. All eight brothers tease and tickle them and never seem to mind that the little girls are the star of the show. The boys really don’t want to wear all those dresses anyway.


Last week Cindy’s mother died.

She’d been sick for a long time, and you’d better believe I spent the past nine months crying: “Enjoy every day! Take pictures! Get the whole family together for holidays!”

They did. The entire family gathered for Easter and just a few days later Sylvia died in her sleep.

And suddenly I was on the other side of grief. I was the experienced one who knew about the funeral home and the flowers. Mary and I shopped together for a ‘funeral basket’– water bottles, pocket kleenex, chocolate, snacks and a bottle of Excedrin- because experience had taught us what you need in those early days. And I marveled as we walked through the stores and bought lockets and strung together necklaces for Isabelle and her mom, that Mary never asked for anything for herself. Her only thought was to comfort her friend.


Hugging on the doorstep the little girls left sorrow behind as they spent the day of the viewing at my house dressing dollies and bouncing on the couch. I indulged them in their favorite game of ‘kitties’ and served milk and sliced turkey in bowls.

The funeral was beautiful but excruciating. I bit my lip and dug my fingernails into the bench cushion– not to keep from crying, because of course I cried– but to refrain myself from rolling onto the floor in outright sobs.

Cindy spoke, as did all three of her brothers, they were respectful and sweet and brought everyone to tears. I like a funeral that makes me cry. I’ve been to several of the new-fashioned type that are all funny stories and odd memories and they disappoint me. I’d rather feel the loss of this person– and acknowledge the good they’ve left on the earth.

Like her daughter, Cindy is the only girl in a family of three brothers. I ache for her because my sister is a treasure. And I’ve worried about my little Mary with no sisters. But to do so is an insult to my gentle sons, my intuitive husband, my sweet brothers, my heart-sister friends. We nurture each other; we muddle through.

April 19, 2010
April 21, 2010



  1. Tracy

    April 21, 2010

    Beautiful post. I am so sorry for your dear friend’s loss. I am so glad you are there for her.

    Adorable kitties.

  2. Sue

    April 21, 2010

    Your friend is lucky to have you, Michelle. And the girls are lucky to have each other.

    My mom will be 83 in three days, and every time I attend a funeral lately it’s a little more emotional for me. I think I’m sort of trying to prepare myself, and yet I can’t imagine life without her. Still, I know that day will come sooner than later, and when it does I will lean on my friends who have walked down that road before me, knowing they will listen to and comfort me until I get my feet back underneath me again.

    What would we do in life without our friends?

  3. Lisa

    April 21, 2010

    Michelle, my heart goes out to your “heart-sister” and her little Isabelle. I remember meeting them at the Tennis Club and thought that she was your sister and you telling me the whole adoption story. They are darling. I can’t tell you how many times that I have been to funerals and dug my fingernails into the cushion as well, trying not to sob uncontrollably. She is blessed to have such an amazing friend.

  4. jendoop

    April 21, 2010

    You do look so much like sisters, the youthful beauty in common.

    It is awe inspiring the comfort God gives. Could he have set you and your friend on a collision path to friendship all those years ago because he knew you’d need each other in these mournful days? I’m sure he did. While he asks us to go through painful things he lightens our burdens with friends like you. Mourning with those that mourn.

    My heart goes out to both of you. Hold on.

  5. Chelle

    April 21, 2010

    my goodness, that was beautiful.

  6. Chelle

    April 21, 2010

    my goodness, that was beautiful.

  7. Linn

    April 21, 2010

    I’m so sorry for Cindy.

    And I’m so sorry for you.

    xo, L.

  8. jenjamin

    April 21, 2010

    I have wondered the same about my only daughter too. 4 boys and one girl. I too am SO very close with my sisters and sort of have an ache in my heart for her that she may never have a sister. I suppose that is when the magic between Father and (only) daughter really ignites… and moms too. Good friends are like magic too. Sweet post.

  9. seven smiles

    April 21, 2010

    I’m so sorry for your friend.

    My heart cries for my {own little adopted} daughter in a houseful of boys. They absolutely treat her like the princess she is, but I know, having three sisters of my own, there is no true substitute. I try to be grateful for other things–I think our relationship is and will be very different than mine and my mother’s {sharing with those 3 sisters… and 4 brothers!} But still, the no sister thing makes me a little teary, especially when she wishes for it and I know I can’t give it to her.
    I wish her a lifetime of good sister-friends.

  10. Linkous

    April 21, 2010

    I agree with your friend who suggested that your friendship was started by the Lord who knows the end from the beginning. What a blessing you are for each other.

  11. Michelle

    April 23, 2010

    I’ve been thinking about you and that funeral basket ever since finding out about the death of my friend. I want to do something similar for her family.

    Grief is such an interesting thing.

    I need to cry more, but I’m sick and my throat hurts too much to do it. Maybe by the funeral that will be different.

  12. Malisa

    April 23, 2010

    This was so lovely and heartbreaking and I am crying. So sorry for both of your losses. The power of friendship is amazing. I also have just one girl and I pray that she will find friends that will be like sisters to her.

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