Just One Flight Of Stairs (Mary and Rhoda)

Valerie Harper

Valerie Harper (Photo credit: AlephNull)

I’ve been upset since I heard the horrific news about Valerie Harper’s incurable brain tumor. Every time I think about “Rhoda” my eyes fill with tears. I couldn’t sleep for a week and I was upset and anxious. How could Rhoda be dying? I was in shock as I’m sure millions of other fans were too.

Rhoda, as we knew her, was Mary’s best friend in the

English: Publicity photo of Mary Tyler Moore a...

English: Publicity photo of Mary Tyler Moore and Valerie Harper from The Mary Tyler Moore Show. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“The Mary Tyler Moore Show” and they lived in the same building. I had a best friend like that for a little while when I lived in Boston. Similarly, I lived in my upstairs studio and she lived in the downstairs studio. We didn’t have large initials of the letters of our first names hanging on our walls but I was always tempted to buy them. We always compared ourselves to Mary and Rhoda; they were icons in our lives; they were icons of an entire generation.

My old friend and I worked, lived independently, made money and at night, she and I would go out for dinner. On Saturday nights we would wait for the papers to come out, often eating ice cream sundaes, chocolate ice cream for her, vanilla ice cream for me, with whipped cream and loads of gooey hot fudge sauce dripping over the bowl with a red maraschino cherry on top. I’m not sure of this, but I think she gave me hers. We spent a lot of time together for years and during that time, we trusted each other with our lives. Our friendship ended, but I still remember those days, with fondness.

Valerie was told by doctors she has about three months to live. Three months to live is a blink of an eye. Rhoda/Valerie, when your time comes, I hope your loved ones are by your side and the things you love most, or fresh fruit juice so your lips won’t get dry. I pray you are pain-free. (Make sure you are pain-free, make them promise. In writing!)

I’m so happy that at least you know how happy you made all of your fans. We love you, we always will. We laughed because of you. Thank you, Valerie, for all the love and goodness and laughter you brought into the world for so many people. I grew up with you, it will be very hard to say good-bye. It already is. I will try to relish every second while I can, enjoy every day with the utmost of optimism, love like I have never loved before and laugh as much as I possibly can. I hope other people will do it with me, many others. Let’s do it, in honor, of Valerie.  I think she would like that.