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Coffee Mugs with Red Wine

April 21, 2012

My neighbor Val went to Greece over the summer for study abroad through the University of Washington. When she came back she was married. She met her husband while sunbathing on the beach. She told me it was love at first sight. They were married before the calendar turned to August.

Even though we had been neighbors for four or so years, I had never really got to know her. But when I told her I was going to France for a month in April we became fast friends. We talked for hours, sipping wine in coffee mugs as the rain fell from the evening sky. She told me how happy she was. How it was fate that she met her husband while traveling. And how she is not the type of person to jump feet first into the deep end. But on that sunny afternoon in Greece, she leapt, feet first.

I saw Val a couple of weeks before I left for my trip. She waved and asked if I was excited. I said yes. I didn’t know that would be the last time I would see her. Val was killed by a drunk driver a few nights later. She was 35.

I was walking in Colmar, looking for a place to grab lunch when I see a woman pushing a stroller. She is talking to her friend in French. She looked exactly like Val. I got chills. And strangely it gave me comfort knowing that maybe somewhere out there, there is a version of Val, happy, free, and pushing a stroller while window shopping in France.

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