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Carol Preisler: Unlikely friendship quickly blossomed

When she moved into my neighborhood, there was a terrible snowstorm. I walked across the street and asked if she and her husband would like to come over for dinner. She curtly said, “no thank you.”

Spring came, followed by a chaotic summer. During a difficult pregnancy, I was often hospitalized. One day, she asked my husband how I was. I was impressed that she spoke to him.

My premature boy came home that winter. The Blizzard of ’77 was on our heels. I built a fire and watched “Roots,” while my husband was stranded near work. On the second day, I got a sitter for my boys and took a walk for baby formula. The snow was deep. Along came a big, old car and the blond driver told me to hop in. That was how it started. I liked her!

After that, Debbie and I shared coffee, back and forth, for over 10 years. “Is your pot on?” We always answered, “Sure is.” We never passed up an opportunity to be with one another and talk shamelessly.

On Friday nights, we’d usually sit in my kitchen, enjoying our own margarita recipe. We’d tell the same stories over and over. We must have had really boring lives.

Our backgrounds were different and yet there was a deep connection. We valued each other. She was a rough-around-the-edges sort of girl and I was not. We balanced each other out. I kept her calm and she encouraged me to be a little bad.

We ate BLTs at Your Host after our ceramic class. She made every little object in that shop while I made only a few. I loved her.

She was a hard worker, an impatient mother and beautiful. She had an infectious laugh and devilish eyes. Years later, when I went through a divorce, she wanted to slash my ex’s tires. That made me laugh but I knew she’d do it if I agreed. She could make even a terrible act seem like fun.

When her divorce occurred, she would call me at 4 a.m., asking if she was going to live. I assured her she would. It was my turn now to offer to slash tires, but I didn’t. She would have done that herself and I knew it. She never did.

Instead she moved on quickly, and I doubt she ever did mend that broken heart. We started to lose touch. Eventually she moved away.

After work one day, my baby sitter told me a man had stopped at my house. He relayed a message that the lady who had lived across the street passed away. Having had several neighbors across the street, I was confused. My focus at that moment was with my sitter and how angry I was that she had opened the door to a stranger. As I recall, nothing else seemed to matter to me. Later that night, my phone rang.

My beautiful friend was dead. She was the victim of domestic violence. Grieving, I went into my room and sobbed. My children cried. Memories flooded in. Was this even possible? Why didn’t she call me? What happened?

I remembered a day when her little boy showed up at my door. He had been dropped off to play with a friend down the street, and came to say hello. I thought it was odd that she did not stop in. The boy said she had remarried.

She called me once after that, but the new man joined us in the background. She never laughed during our conversation.

I learned no charges were ever filed.

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