The Purse

One of my beloved friends was sitting next to me in the back seat of our car. We had driven her to the local Walgreens so she could pick up a prescription. She opened the door, retrieved her purse and left, promising a quick return.

As she exited, holding her bag, I could not help notice how thin it was. Remembering other purses she had carried over the years made me notice the difference. Now her purse seemed meager and small — its purpose apparently was no longer to enclose many items.

This observation made me sad. My friend was once an astute professor at our local college. She held multiple degrees, had managed a successful counseling business and traveled all over the world. I had always loved listening to her experiences in all of these endeavors and she had enjoyed hearing my life adventures. In other words, we shared our lives both professionally and personally.

purseI took stock in what I carry in my handbag. Of course, first and important is the infamous cell phone. Then a wallet, coin purse, various lipsticks, a comb, my personal checkbook, my address book and perhaps a few other cosmetics or keepsakes. In other words, my purse is full — hers had also been at one time!

I believe that if I had looked into her purse, there would have been just a few of the items above. Obviously, she did not need to carry or be responsible for a bag full of extra things. I would guess that she carried her lipstick, her apartment key, a comb, her wallet and perhaps a cell phone.

Her illness may have robbed her of some things. But it did not take her smile, her love of life or all the memories we had made over the years. Her purse just gave a new identity! She will always be my friend — but now with a small purse.

About the Author

Maryann Hartzell-Curran, a retired educator and counselor, has written a personal account of her journey through the first year of grieving the loss of her husband in her book, “From We to Me,” to help support those who have suffered the loss of a loved one.
Maryann founded a successful family therapy practice and taught in the public and private sectors. She also founded and directed a church-based preschool in Lombard, Ill., and gained experience working with the elderly as director of a senior dining center. She has a bachelor’s degree in education from the University of Wisconsin and a master’s degree in counseling from Illinois Benedictine University.

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