I’ve been thinking of Naomi a lot lately. Of all those years a long time ago in California before the beginning of the end. We were just kids raising kids. Naomi was the real baby, only twenty when we met. It was March and my girls were having a birthday party. After the party I took a few of my little sugar-high guests across the street to peek through the fence to pet the goat. Soon a girl appeared from the house on the back of the lot, followed by a cute toddler who looked like she’d been cut out with the same cookie cutter.
We went to Las Vegas once for the weekend. Naomi and me and Bid and Jim, our husbands. Bid was there for some kind of Sparkletts convention, the company he worked for. Jim and I just went along for the fun of it. That first night Naomi and I got all dressed up in flowing gowns and high heels. She was quite the beauty with her long thick hair and aristocratic French nose. A real Stephanie Powers look-a-like. We were so excited.
We sat in Bid’s car in the dark before we went into the casino, sketching out our gambling plans. My husband asked me for two aspirins. Absentmindedly I fumbled in my purse for the loose pills. I handed him two. After tossing down one without benefit of water, he began choking. He squinted at his hand. “Damn it, Laura,” he croaked. “You gave me safety pins and one’s stuck in my throat! Get me some water!”
Water water everywhere and not a drop to drink. Except in Las Vegas, nowhere. “I’ll get some,” I promised and tore through the dark to the closest restaurant, Naomi clumping along behind me. Hysterically I begged for a cup of water. Back at the car, the three of us watched while Jim drank. “More,” he whispered and we tore back to the restaurant.
“I’ve told that story a hundred times,”she told me years later. “No one could believe you gave Jim a safety pin instead of an aspirin.”
Jim and Bid are gone now. So is Naomi, recently taken from us in a tragic accident. But in our memories she will always be alive.