It was Merrie’s birthday last week, her 56th, if she had lived to celebrate it. Merrie was … oh it’s impossible to say who Merrie was to me: one of my oldest and closest friends doesn’t quite do it. Nor do any of these: the willowy blonde architecture student who wore red clogs; the mother of two beautiful boys of whom she was insanely proud; a woman who had the most strikingly singular personal style, who didn’t turn it off even for our Wednesday trips to Yale for her chemo treatments.
I was a freelance writer during Merrie’s last year of life and was free to drive her to the hospital for a year’s worth of Wednesdays. She wouldn’t be ready when I arrived, so I’d sit at the edge of her bed and watch her chose an outfit, trying to stave off my anxiety about being late — she’d lose her slot if I didn’t get her there on time. Merrie, for all her wondrousness, was late for most things, including the potentially life-saving chemo infusions.