Ellie and I were besties, if grown up women are allowed to use that word. Our kids were tiny together. We all lived in a Dallas suburb, just a few blocks apart. The husbands worked all hours and we’d take the children to the park or the schoolyard across from my house. We’d all have dinner at her house or mine. Occasionally we’d even let the husbands join. She had a swing set, and we had a cat and a parakeet. I invited Ellie to book club and she was instantly a treasured member. She was an artist and she and I could talk about artistic things without being in competition with one another.
Ellie gave me the idea to put the kids to bed earlier than “stated bedtime” if it felt right. “They don’t know how to tell time yet. If they’re tired, read them a story and put them to bed.”
Wow. What a concept.
Ellie’s son Jason is a little older than Jessamyn, her daughter Cameron a little younger. Ellie took care of Jessamyn when I went to the hospital to have Ariel. First time was a false alarm. She also took care of Jessamyn during the second false alarm. And when it was really time, yes, Ellie had Jessamyn again. Ariel took her sweet time and was 12 days late when she finally decided to make an appearance.
I found out later what happened…There was a pill in Jessamyn’s doll’s pocket, Jessamyn popped it down the hatch before Ellie could stop her. “I sure wasn’t going to call you in the hospital,” said Ellie, “and if I didn’t know what the pill was, the pediatrician said I had to give Jessamyn Ipecac to get it up.” Jessamyn and Ellie spent the entire night in the bathroom. Wow.
A few months later when Jeff planned a smash-up surprise 30th birthday party for me…stashing the family in hotels and such, it was Ellie he asked to take me shopping during the preparations. It was Ellie who practically had to catch me as I fell over walking in the door.
I knew she got divorced. I knew she moved to Houston. She was working at a museum. The girls and I went down to visit her, where, as always, I petted her Fiesta ware dishes.
Every time I look at my Fiesta ware–new ones, not vintage like Ellie’s–I think of her.
How can someone just disappear? Over the years I’ve looked many many times, and more recently with increasing intensity. Facebook. Google. Artist organizations. Online white pages. Yellow Pages. Every combination of Ellie or Ellen that I could come up with. Nada. I just hate losing people I love and I make every possible effort to stay connected. I easily reconnected with another friend from Dallas. (Jan, can you see me waving?) “Do you know where Ellie is?” “No, do YOU know where Ellie is?” I tried other members of the same book group but no luck there either.
It makes me so sad not to have Ellie in my life. For the girls not to know her. To not be able to share everything that’s happening to me…and to share what was going on in her life.
Last Wednesday I came home for a quick lunch between appointments, and checked the voicemail.
“Hi, Karen, it’s Ellie….”