A Wave Of Sadness Swept Over Me When I Saw Her

A woman who was my best friend for about 20 years is dying. We haven’t been pals for the last 20 years because we simply “grew apart,” but I did invite her to dinner a few years ago, and we spent a couple of hours catching up on our kids, our jobs, and our partners.


When she walked out, I sensed we wouldn’t see each other again, but I surely didn’t think the reason would be her serious illness. She hadn’t told me that she had breast cancer years ago; I learned about it from a mutual acquaintance, and that it had returned and spread.

Then, one afternoon when David and I were walking past her apartment with dog Rigby (L lives 4 blocks away),  I saw her husband and two sons lifting her, in a wheelchair, into a taxi.  A wave of sadness swept over me. I remembered how beautiful and lively she was when we met in our twenties, her blond straight hair the complete opposite of my dark curly hair; her deep blue eyes and porcelain skin stark contrasts to my brown eyes and olive skin.

We were opposite in more ways than our looks: She was always late; I was always early. She dressed impeccably in expensive designer duds; I threw things together. She labored over every word she wrote. I churned out copy a mile a minute. She had to associate with the ‘in’ crowd.  The cool contingent usually looked at me as an outsider. We nevertheless ‘entertained’ each other in ways no one else could.  I found it amusing going to dinner at her house and being served by a housekeeper. I loved getting her older son’s handmedowns for my son. She once told me, ‘I don’t have to go the the theatre when I have you as my friend.’ (more…)

The Untimely Death Of A New Father


thecaptionI only met Paul once, at the wedding of my friend, Joanna. Paul was married to Lucy, Joanna’s twin sister.

Lucy and Paul met at the Yale School of Medicine, and eventually went on to do their residencies at Stanford University Medical Center, he as a neurosurgeon, she as an internist. Exceptionally smart, they also made an exceptionally handsome couple. They had a daughter last July 4th, named Elizabeth Acadia “Cady” Kalanithi.


“She’s Not Good Enough For My Sonny Boy!”

How would you like a mother-in-law who didn’t think you were “good enough” for her sonny boy? Not so much, of course.

Well, mothers-in-law like this lurk in dark corners all over the world, and, as far as I’m concerned, they’re a repulsive lot. I recently heard about one woman I know, who commented to her best friend about her son’s fiancé: “He could do better.”

Mind you, the girlfriend is reportedly a lovely, educated woman, but she apparently doesn’t cut the mustard in the eyes of her future m-i-l, a woman who has always come across to me as unfriendly, impertinent, and hoity-toity. Apparently, she’s not pleasant to the young woman, either. If she was going to be my m-i-l, I’d be distressed, big time. Unless, of course, my future husband assured me that he knew his mother was trouble, with a capital T.

Let’s say your ridiculously handsome son graduated from Harvard, got his law degree from Yale and earns $2.7 million a year at the most prestigious law firm in the country. Do you think all this makes him “better” than an average-looking woman who graduated, let’s say, from a state university, is finishing her masters at a state university, and is a public school teacher who will unlikely earn big bucks? Of course it doesn’t. But some people base their opinions of others on the schools they attended, the money they earn, the clothes they wear and the look of their faces.

All too often, families that consider themselves “blue bloods” aren’t terribly interested in welcoming anyone into their inner circles with blood of a different color, never mind skin.

What if the son I described above had a terrible accident which impaired him and rendered him unable to work? Would a judgmental m-i-l still consider her daughter-in-law unworthy of her son’s love, as she watched her tirelessly care for her offspring?

I’ve heard mothers over the years describe their daughters-in-law as “too demanding, too lazy, too selfish, too money hungry,” even “too hefty.” Of course, their sons all embodied perfection! I remember my usually mild-mannered, soft-spoken paternal grandmother repeatedly moaning how my uncle was “too good” for his wife, who the family dubbed “crazy.” I loved my uncle, but I assure you he was hardly “too good” for her.

Our sons are free to marry anyone they choose, and unless the women they choose are abusive, who are we to judge their worthiness? And what about those of us who have daughters? What do their mothers-in-laws say about them?