Today would have been mine and Brigid’s 20th Anniversary as “besties.”
We were both new employees to a buffet/full service style restaurant. We had never worked together; but we were both assigned to work this massive party. The thing about these kinds of restaurants is the service staff is always short. Instead of carrying three or four tables, like in a traditional full-service restaurant, it was not uncommon to have 10 to 20 tables. This was a full party – the entire back room – if memory serves me we probably had 100+ guests. It was just the two of us.
These weren’t “nice” people either. They were nasty and treated their two servers like dirt; intentionally making things difficult. They demanded that once a plate was dirty it be removed from their table. Never mind the fact that they would go up to the buffet and put one or two things on their plate. You would go to a table and get drink refills, “More tea, ma’am?” “No, I’m good…thanks.” You would return to the table moments later only to have this same woman hand you her empty glass and say, “I would like a refill.” BITCH!! The next time you refilled the drinks you were prepared and brought her a tea anyway. “I don’t want that, take it away!”
It was a long and rough night. To make matter worse this waitress I was working with for the first time was a WACKO. She would be in the kitchen throwing stuff, cussing, and then stomp out with a smile plastered on her face. I wasn’t sure what to think of her but it seemed that she was in the mood swings from hell. I didn’t really care, she was keeping up and we were getting it done. Still – I kept my distance.
Finally the party from the 7th level of HELL went away. She stormed outside for a cigarette and I asked if I could bum one. We got outside and she slid down the wall like Jello and started to cry. She told me that her Grandfather had died that day, but our boss said she had to come in and work the party, then she could go home. I suddenly understood. I told her she needed to leave and be with her family. “Go, get out of here, I will clean the dining room.” She wouldn’t, she would stay and clean up. She said she appreciated it but she wouldn’t leave me to do that alone. We cleaned as fast as we could and she left.
We didn’t know it that day, but the death of her Grandfather and the party from Hell would create an amazing friendship. A friendship that even death can’t destroy.
The years went by. Our children grew. We both divorced horrible husbands. I found a great guy and remarried, she was my Matron of Honor. Our Granddaughters were born and have grown. I hate the fact that they will never know their Grandmother. How amazing and special she was. It will be up to me alone to keep those memories for them.
Tonight would have been special!! We would have gone to dinner, argued over who paid the bill, tipped too much because we hassled the server. Not in a cruel way, just telling old stories the way long time friends do. We would have both purchased gifts that cost way too much, but that meant a lot. Like the antique friendship quilt she bought me for Christmas last year. The one that is now hanging on a ladder by my bed. At the same time her birthday present is still in my closet, still in the Amazon box, unopened, unwrapped. I keep meaning to give it away…but I just can’t. It was the Highlander season 1 box set. She would have gone nuts…she adored Adrian Paul.
How do you lose one of the great loves of your life and move forward. I don’t know? I still don’t know where to go and what to do. I feel like part of me is missing and I know that I cannot join her…not until my time runs out. I remember our 20th – celebrate it in fact – knowing that I may celebrate 40 more November 7th’s without her. (I am only 47) But I also know that I will pass this date as many times as will be required because that is what she wants and my last November 7th is only up to God. I also know that I will never have that kind of love again. It is irreplaceable. I also know that I am blessed to have had it in the first place. People live their entire lives and never love another person the way we loved one another. It was truly a once in a lifetime kind of love.
Happy 20th Anniversary, Brigid. I love you to the moon and back…