birds in a barrel's mission is to release creative nonfiction into the wild.

40 Days & 40 Writes is its first project.

That's What Friends Are For

I would love to introduce you to my friend, Frannie, personally, but she died a year ago. She just up and died with no advance warning—with no time to say “good bye.” I thought we were going to be little old ladies together.

We were friends for over forty years. We were young mothers together. Our families went on vacations together. We threw parities for each other’s children when they married and had babies. She sat with my husband the night before he died and sang hymns to him. I sat with her the night her husband left her. I hoped I could be with her if she needed me, but I didn’t even know she was in the hospital. She had been at a party on Saturday night, starting feeling sick on Sunday, and died on Tuesday. Her death caught a lot of people by surprise and has left a huge hole.

There is so much you need to know about her. She was a deeply good person—as fine a person as you’d ever want to meet, but down-to-earth and real. Smart, open-minded, accepting of people where they are. At her funeral, the church was packed with people from all walks-of-life and ethnicities. Each one of us had a strong connection to Frannie.

I’m pretty sure my husband’s sister, Gloria, is alive today because of Frannie. Gloria manifested her grief of her brother’s death by unrelentingly chewing on every detail and trying to micromanage his funeral with her strong evangelical Christian ideas (he was an agnostic, by the way). I vividly remember thinking that she was driving me nuts, and I might just kill her. Frannie stepped in and quietly led Gloria away and explained to her how funerals were handled at our church. It would be a nice service, she promised. It was, and Gloria is still alive today some twenty years later.

Frannie was the person you needed in a crisis

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