"Great! I can't believe how cold it got in just one night!" Denise exclaimed, grateful to be coming into Penny's warm, comfortable home and equally grateful for a cup of the hot, strong, black coffee that Penny offered.
"Thanks! Oh, that's good." Denise took a sip of the coffee.
"Here's some of Del's potato chip cookies," Penny offered.
"Thanks, but I think I'll pass. I've been putting on some weight lately and I need to start cutting back again. So, how've you been? I can't believe it's been so long since we've gotten together."
"Yeah, I know," Penny replied. "Ever since we all started working full time..." her voice drifted off.
It was true. Once stay-at-home moms who got together regularly, Penny, Denise and the rest of their group didn't see each other much any more. Everyone had gone back to working full time in order to pay for college or to just keep up with the bills. And now that their nests were either empty or nearly so, a certain loneliness and longing had crept into their lives.
"I miss the old days," Denise lamented. "We didn't know how good we had it. Those were the days! We struggled, but it seemed that we were happier then. We were free to do what we wanted to do, even if we couldn't afford to do much." Denise laughed.
Penny chucked too. "Remember when we saved all those candy wrappers to get into the Sox games for free? We spent all that money on candy, but we got in the game!"
"Yeah, and froze our butts off in the nosebleed section! It was fun though, wasn't it? We had some great times back then. Remember camping at Potato Creek and how Dennis and Jerry got into a fight about the bikes? I really thought they were going to duke it out!"
"They had their moments," Penny recalled. "But through thick and thin they remained best friends. Just like Emily and Becky." It was true. The sons and daughters of Penny and Denise remained close, even though they'd married and moved to differing states.
"Where does the time go? And how is it that we don't realize what we have until it's gone? Well, I guess it's not really gone, but it's not the same. We hardly see each other any more--just weddings and funerals it seems like. It was strange that we all met down in Champaign for Kenny's wedding. A reunion two hours away when we all live in the same town. Seems like we've kind of gone our separate ways..."
"Well, it doesn't have to be that way. We still have good times when we get together. We just need to make the time," Penny said as she refreshed their coffee.
"Time..." Denise sighed. "Time...," she repeated, growing increasingly nostalgic.
The friends continued to reminisce while sipping their coffee. Glancing out the window, they noticed that snow had begun to fall. Another winter, another page turned on the calendar. Very soon, it would be another year. The weather outside was cold, but inside things were as they should be. The warmth of their friendship overtook them. Like their children, they were in it through thick and thin. Times may change, but the friendship remained. Penny and Denise seemed always able to just pick things up where they left off the last time. And so they did again. Another day, another year, another pot of coffee.