Sunday, February 7, 2021

Fishducky Died, But She Still Beat the System

I limped back from the mailbox, so proud that I didn’t need to use my walker. “Of course the letter didn’t come,” I told myself. She died in 2020 and no amount of trips to the mailbox would make the letter magically appear. 

Fran was unlike anyone I’ve ever met, so energetic and full of sass. I just loved joking around with her and seeing how she could make literally anything funny. And I know it sounds trivial, but I looked forward to the birthday card she sent to me each year because it meant she was still doing well, happy, and loved by everyone she met.

But this year I would never be able to talk with Fran again, and the hilarious birthday card wouldn’t come. So, I told myself to stop checking the mailbox!

My birthday progressed—honestly one of the best I’ve ever had. Despite pains from cancer and intermittent nausea, I really lived in the moment, enjoying my family with every bit of me. But as I started opening my gifts, my 11-year-old suddenly panicked. “The green envelope. Where is it?! The green envelope.... Have you seen it?”

I shook my head. “No. I haven’t.”

In fact no one knew where it was. 

“But I made you something really awesome! I have to find it.” Then she got up and started rummaging through drawers that rest to the side of our kitchen. “Like this!” she spouted, before running over waving an envelope. “The envelope looks just like this one. Have you seen it?” She placed it on the table in front of me, and my eyes grew wide.

“Indy, where...did you get this?”

“The last drawer, why?”

I held my breath as I picked up the envelope. It was unopened, postmarked Dec. 13, 2018...addressed from Fran and her husband...when they were both alive.

My hands shook as I opened the card. It felt as if Fran sat there with me, almost smirking because she’d somehow rigged the system. And when I pulled the card from the envelope I burst out laughing. She’d sent me a holiday card with a duck on it. Of course she had! Fran absolutely loved ducks so much that some people called her “Fishducky.”

I immediately told my family why this was such a strange thing. “It’s from 2018! We always open our mail. And it was in the drawer with our tax returns! This is unreal.”

That night, I clutched the card and thought of my dear friend. Wherever she is, I sure hope she knows how much I love her—and how much her friendship meant to me over the last decade.

“Fran sounds like she was a character,” someone said after I told them the story.

“Oh, she really was. She could make anything better. Even a birthday when she’s no longer here.”

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