I'm Gen X, and my best friend is a boomer. She's helping me through my divorce and models my future for me.

  • I met my best friend, Kathy, while working at a library together; she's 25 years older than me.

  • For years, she has been the person I told everything to, including my parenting fears.

  • Now, she's helping me through my difficult divorce.

Every morning at 5:40, I text Kathy. "You up?"

Kathy can't figure out how to turn off the Do Not Disturb mode on her phone, so I wait for her to call me. "I'm old, Amy," she laughs. "Next time the grandkids are here, I'll have them fix it."

At 73, Kathy's not old. I met her 20 years ago when we were both librarians at a vocational high school. She begged the cosmetology students to brush and braid her long black "witch's nest" hair. At lunch, she ate sardines, shrugged her shoulders, and laughed when students asked about the awful smell. She's a Portuguese townie who lives on the tip of Cape Cod. Fish runs through her blood.

Two decades later, she's still my closest friend — even though she's a boomer and I'm Gen X. She's even helping me through my divorce.

We created a bond in that library

Back then, I entertained Kathy with stories about my two toddler daughters digging up indoor house plants and creating mud pools in the backyard for their Barbies. She eased my anxiety about choosing the "best" preschool and shooed away my mom guilt for feeding my younger daughter Spaghettios for dinner in the bathtub.

"You'll look back on these days and laugh," she said. "I promise." She was right. My daughters are now 20 and 18. I wish my biggest concern was the questionable nutritional merit of canned pasta.

I've trusted Kathy with my deepest fears and mistakes for 25 years. She knows I let my 4 and 6-year-old girls use their pacifiers at bedtime. She knows I love food and hate food after my mother took me to Weight Watchers when I was 13. She knows I was pregnant when I got married. She's listened to me wonder aloud what my life might look like if I made different decisions.

We spend our morning minutes talking about what we buy at Trader Joe's. Me: spices and chips. Kathy: olive oil and anything that looks "interesting." She keeps me on speakerphone while she rips kale for soup. We roar with laughter when I describe my meltdown in the grocery store because they didn't sell mini Charleston Chews. She tells me about sobbing to a police officer when she was pulled over during the height of her divorce.

Now, she's helping me get through a divorce

In September, my husband of 21 years surprised me with a divorce. A week into being empty nesters, I begged him to stay and work on our relationship. "I have no desire to do that," he said and left.

An hour later, I called Kathy. When I heard her voice, I sobbed.

"Oh, Aims," she said. "Has he gone crazy?" Kathy went through a divorce when she was 48 — the age I am now.

Divorce was the only thing I wanted to talk about when my husband initially left. Kathy understood things and emotions my parents, who've been married for 50 years, didn't. She meant it when she said, "Call me anytime," unlike my well-intentioned friends who were busy raising kids and working.

Divorce made me sensitive and avoid conversations with a casual friend or acquaintance in the grocery store. An innocent, "You had no idea he was unhappy?" made me feel stupid and sent me into orbit.

"What's wrong with people?" Kathy asked the next morning. "Grocery shop early on Sunday morning or tell those gossip-hungry people your life's never been better."

My conversations with Kathy are more insightful and healing than ones with my therapist. For a woman who lives in the house she was born in, and doesn't like to travel more than five minutes from it, she knows about people, the world, and how to make me feel special.

My relationship with Kathy helps me believe I will be OK

Every morning, while I walk my neighborhood streets in the dark (wearing the headlight Kathy insisted I get), she assures me I will get through this moment in time. I see how her adult kids have flourished and have kids of their own whom she cherishes. I'm comforted by the love she found in a second husband a few years after her divorce. Kathy's not the angry, jaded divorced woman I'm terrified of becoming. She exudes love. She tells me I do the same.

My relationship with Kathy is easy. She's maternal without the complications of a mother/daughter relationship. She continues to be my bestie and wingman without the expectation of a girls' trip or dinner out — both exhausting to even think about. Kathy cheers me on from the sideline of life.

On the long road to divorce recovery, Kathy keeps showing up. Sometimes, she mentions her knees ache from wear and tear. I don't doubt it. She's logged a lot of miles with me.

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