I met Bobbe in an exercise class for pregnant women. I'd just moved to a new town and didn't know a soul besides my mom, and it seemed like a good way to meet people I'd have something in common with. Three of us were due about the same time, and exercised together like graceless dancing elephants until we delivered. We got together afterwards and compared our babies: Mine was smallest, Karen's was the boy, and Bobbe's? The likeliest to be able to live up to being named after not one, but two English Queens.
When the babies were less than two months old, Bobbe and I got bored and took a road trip to Philly to visit my brother and sis-in-law for a weekend. New moms, we loaded the back of her SUV to the gills with full-size strollers, suitcases full of baby clothes, diaper bags, and in Bobbe's case, an entire bassinette. Two car seats in the back, and two grown women taking turns sitting back there to keep an eye on the babies, taking breaks every five minutes to nurse one or the other of them: We were utterly ridiculous and had no idea that we didn't need any of that stuff really. We laughed at ourselves over that trip every time we thought of it for years afterwards.
When the girls were 9 months old Bobbe moved to Tampa. "Come and visit anytime!," she said, and meant it. So Tampa became Citygirl's and my winter getaway. We came every year for a week or two. I have pictures of Victoria in her naked-except-for-fingerpaint stage. I have pictures of little girls trampolining. I have pictures of Citygirl pinwheeling into a pristine backyard pool in the January sun. I have memories of Bobbe talking her pediatrician into seeing Citygirl for one of her many ear infections. Of meeting her church friends. Of sitting and talking and talking and talking about nothing and anything and everything on the lanai. Of shopping for real bras together once we were done nursing (I had never had a professional 'fitting' before. Bobbe insisted. She was right - who knew? Take her advice, ladies - go and let some total stranger measure your boobs. Your boobs will thank you).
They would come north in the summer. We went camping together, drinking Bailey's Irish Cream beside the campfire next to giggling girls cooking marshmallows over the coals (I insisted. To Bobbe's chagrin, Victoria loved it. I think it cost her a fortune in camping equipment over the years). We lay on our backs on a thyme-covered hill watching the stars, and stayed there long enough to know it was the earth moving under us and not the stars moving over us.
One memorable week we traveled to visit, bringing all of Citygirl's siblings, my brother, sis-in-law and their two kids. I overheard Bobbe say casually to someone on the phone, "Oh, no, not this week. I have nine houseguest so I don't have any extra room." Whoohoo! I was the one who finally filled her house to CAPACITY! That was the same week that we went for desert at a local restaurant, only to discover that the President was eating dinner there! The memory of Bobbe's excited thumbs-up dance in the middle of the street when she learned this news still makes me laugh out loud. Victoria and Citygirl spent an evening stalking former President Bush. Ask them about how successful two fifteen-year-olds can be at outwitting the Secret Service.
When the kids got older the visits got less frequent, but it didn't change the fact that Bobbe was one of the best friends I ever had. Her willingness to go the extra mile, driving me and my Babygirl to a doctor's appointment that was literally a 384 mile round-trip while I did dialysis on Babygirl in the back seat of her car was just one more example. And we used the time to talk, and talk, and talk about everything and nothing and all the things that cement a friendship between women.
My brother once said, "I don't 'get' you and Bobbe. You don't seem to have anything in common." On the surface of it, I suppose we were very different people. But our friendship began at a time when our lives had everything in common: A focus on the love of a tiny little girl. We had no nearby family, and no friends who wanted to hear us brag about every blink and bowel movement. And once you bond like a sister, you stay sisters forever.
I miss you to the moon and back, Bobbe.