The tree blooming outside my window changes, almost by the hour it seems, in the way that spring things do, freshening the winter-grayed color palette just at the time we need it to. I know that the pretty white flowers won’t last very long. They will be replaced by the shiny bright green leaves, and the bluest skies you’ve ever seen above. I anticipate these things, all the normal changes, and I expect to be there to see them, many times over.

I’ve written here a few times about Margaret, my very best friend from my early teen years. My god, did we have some fun, she and I. Everyone loved her, because she was so outgoing and friendly and confident and kind and kooky and stylish, cool but not snobby at all. Everything she did seemed so effortless and easy. She wasn’t afraid to dig in and work hard, got good grades…I didn’t think she’d have any problem making a success in life.

I sit here, looking at the tree. And she is gone.

My friend got just about every raw deal one could get handed in adulthood. A bad, too-early marriage that ended in divorce, a second marriage with another divorce. The death of her only child, aged 15. And that sickness she had when we were kids, the one that went on and on, because there was no money to see a doctor? It was rheumatic fever, and it ruined her heart, and her kidneys failed as well. Transplants didn’t take, and all her determination and optimism could not overcome all of this.

It doesn’t seem possible. The old photographs of Margaret burst with energy. A long time ago, now.

I wish my friend were here to see another spring. I wish there were something I could have done.