By Margo T Krasne
I don’t know how many times over the last nine months—for that matter the last two years—I have uttered the words, “What would I do without you?” I have said it to friends of long standing. Said it to people with whom in the past I’d get together now and then but who have come back into my life on a more regular basis. That those words turned out to be the title I would eventually choose for my book of short stories was pure happenstance. My words weren’t said lightly. I truly had—correction—have no idea as to how I would have gotten through these last years if they hadn’t all been there.
You see in a few weeks, as of this writing, I will turn 83. You don’t get to be my age without losses of one kind or another piling up. Thankfully, so far no one close to me has succumbed to COVID, but in 2019 both my niece and one of my closest friends passed away. My niece from cancer; my friend from ALS. The losses were devastating and as each loss awakens memories of past ones, these two were unbearable. Then COVID arrived, and with-it anxiety and confinement, not to mention a gut-wrenching despair as I watched my country fall apart. Again, I don’t know what I would have done, would do if I didn’t have friends in my life who were willing to share their own feelings helping to soothe the jagged edges of mine.
As a young girl I found it difficult to make and maintain friendships. And yet, somehow, I knew that I’d not make it through life without them. I was right. In many instances they were more supportive than family, certainly more reliable than the many lovers who have come and gone. Friends such as Dorothy who in 1964 took on the role of older sister after my own had died. (Dementia and old age took Dorothy from us in 2018.) Or Margaret, with whom I chat thru What’sApp on the second Tuesday of every month. She came into my life in 1971 when we were both struggling artists. (It has taken way too long, but Australia has finally recognized her talents.) Then there’s Michael and Gundi in Berlin. (He’s now recovering from a near-death case of COVID) We have remained close, despite our physical distance. (We met in 1980 when they were stationed in New York.) And Jeff, whom I met through work and has popped up and disappeared over the years. We now talk every Sunday at 2 over FaceTime. Our conversations wide-ranging and in depth. There are others. I just wanted to share a few of the sustaining threads in my life.
Most of my friendships were formed over 50
As I changed careers—from actress to ad gal to full-time sculptor to communications consultant, friends would fall away and off I’d go searching for a new friend to fill the void. I would do so with the same intensity that I set about each new venture. Not all took hold. Some that did for years, fell apart. What surprised me, still does, was how much I could miss someone that I’d walked away from or not miss at all a person who had been in my life, literally, on a weekly, maybe even daily basis after we reached our limits and parted ways.
These days most of the people in my life I met after I turned 50 and started the last of my careers. (I don’t consider my writing a career as it is something I have always done.) There are others in my life I’ve known for only a short time. Do these friendships have the depth that years of mutual experiences bring? Of course not. But our conversations filled with the sharing of the day’s or week’s events, unexpected insights that sharpen our thinking, and more importantly, the willingness on both our parts to be open with each other, bring an enormous comfort just knowing that we’re not alone.
Margo Krasne, a born and bred New Yorker, has had many careers: actress, ad gal, sculptor, and communications coach. Her books include, Say It With Confidence, I Was There All Along a memoir, and What Would I Do Without You? A collection of short stories about friendships.