More than a few years back, Dave and I attended a childbirth class for geriatric mothers.  Really, they used the words pregnant and geriatric in the same sentence!  We were all first-time moms over the age of thirty.  Three of us women hit if off, and we’ve remained friends through the decades.  Our girls were born, Brianna, then Kali, then Christina, over a period of three weeks.  And there we were, one daughter each.

Our girls play together as toddlers.  They attended preschool together.  Then, geography put them in different schools.  We stayed in touch and got together through their youth, but by middle school, the girls were pursuing their own passions.  We had an artist, a genius, and an athlete.  By the time they were in high school the girls rarely saw one another, but we moms kept in touch, getting together now and then, keeping tabs on one another.  We’d share our girls’ successes, dreams and challenges; we’d compare the very different paths they’d each chosen; and we’d marvel at the young women our little girls had become.

Recently, Kali, one of our beloved daughters, lost her life to a brain function abnormality.

She’d been living with symptoms, and doctors and specialists had tested and treated.    And then she died.   And it hurts.

The pain her parents suffer is heartbreaking.  The conversations with mutual friends are exhausting.   The desire to help, to repair, to make it all okay again leads to sleepless nights.  Because we can’t yet begin to understand what that new “okay” is going to be.  The busy-ness of arrangements, and paperwork, and notifying, and events lasts only a couple of weeks.  Then what will we do?

We will walk.

Kali’s mom and I enjoyed longs walks while our little ones were in preschool.  We had three hours to get some fresh air and catch up on the weeks events.  As years went by, the walks turned into hikes, then they became less frequent.  And as more years went by, we found it harder to make the time, or the weather didn’t cooperate, or we had other commitments…. we no longer walked together.  And every time we did connect, one of us would mention how much we missed the rhythm of our stride and the sharing of our lives. We missed those walks.

A final gathering is a few days away.  And then  ~  we’ve both put it on our calendars  ~  Kali’s mom and I are going on a hike.  We’ve chosen a  wilderness area that offers easy strolls and rigorous hikes, because neither of us knows now which she’lll feel up to.  Perhaps a slow gentle pace, calm and conducive to small talk or quiet tears.  Or a no-holds-physical attack that will weary our bodies and help rest our minds.   Regardless of which path we take, we’ll be back to where we were those years ago, walking and sharing, listening and maybe laughing , crying,  hugging.

And we will walk.