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Meet Jill


New York, New York


            “The view is breathtaking, you know.” Jill stated to the realtor as she followed her around her stunning, sun-lit apartment on Manhattan’s Upper West Side. The realtor just looked around and kept making notes on her iPad. She didn’t seem impressed, but Jill knew, she knew her apartment was a clutch get for any realtor. During the boom years she had realtors regularly ringing her bell or leaving messages with her doorman to see if they could just wedge a foot in and plant the seeds of sale in her head. She always resisted even though she wasn’t in love with the apartment. It was just a space. A beautifully decorated space but that’s all it was for her. Never a home.


Her home was in a leafy New Jersey suburb where she lived with her first husband, Rob and their daughter Vivianne. But that home belonged to someone else now; she had moved out of it in September of 2002, just a year after her husband Rob died in a plane that went down, historically, in a Pennsylvania field on an achingly beautiful fall day. She packed up her car with the last few items left over from her old life and began a new life with Archer, Rob’s business partner, who was supposed to be on that flight as well but had overslept and missed it. His last conversation with Rob was a brief one, stating that he was on his way to the airport and would board the next flight out to San Francisco, he’d be right behind him. That flight never left the gate and Rob’s flight never made it past the East coast. She remembers moving that day, staring in disbelief at the delicate diamond wedding band that graced her ring finger glittering in the fall sunlight off of the moving boxes she was taping up and placing in the back of her old Volvo station wagon beside her daughter Viv. That ring always seemed to catch her off-guard because she kept expecting to see the plain, well-worn platinum band which had always resided there but now, was bent and fashioned into a memory heart that she wore on a long thin chain beneath her sweater. A day that was fueled by hate took that all away from her and from Viv too.


            Jill had argued with Rob for nearly a week about that trip. It was an important trip but it was also their daughter’s first day of middle school and she wanted him to leave later in the day so that they could go to the diner on their way to school for an early breakfast as was their tradition ever since Viv had started kindergarten. But Rob was always an up at the crack of dawn’s ass kind of guy, and he loved getting on those first flights out of Newark. When the car service came to pick him up that morning, he had kissed her as she was getting out of the shower, wrapping the towel around her swollen belly that was showing the signs of the pregnancy which they had been trying for ever since Viv was two. 


            Jill was still holding a little grudge over the fact that he was leaving as planned and pouted as she kissed him back. She told him she loved him and asked if he needed her to pick him up Friday night or would he be coming back with Archer. He said he wanted her and Viv to pick him up Friday night and to celebrate her first week in middle school, they would go out to a Portuguese restaurant in the Ironbound section of Newark for dinner on the way home from the airport. Rob thought that would be nice, for the three of them to do something a little more grown up now that Viv was growing up. Plus, soon enough, they both knew, there would be precious few nights out once their son was born. 


The ultrasound she had just a few weeks prior had confirmed that yes indeed, she was carrying a boy. She and Rob had just moved Viv into the bigger bedroom down the hall and Rob had begun the renovation of Vivianne's pink domain to now accommodate a boy. There were rolls of denim printed wallpaper stacked in the corner of the room. The pink and gold dragonfly wallpaper that was put up when she knew she was carrying Viv had been steamed off the walls; a small square containing just one perfect little dragonfly was cut out, matted, framed and hung in Vivianne's new big girl room. There was a mobile depicting every ball used in every sport ready to hang over the crib, and Rob in his anticipation of having a son, even hung up a Nerf basketball hoop over the closet door.


            Jill laughed when he first brought it home. She said that was like her buying Vivianne a make-up bag when she found out she was pregnant with a girl. Rob just chuckled, and swung her around the room with his big, bright brown eyes shining. He said he didn’t care how ridiculous she thought it was, he was going to finally have another man around the house, and he was getting ready. They had planned to name him William Robert Parker. They hadn’t yet decided if he would go by Liam or Tripp, as he would have been the third William Robert Parker in their family tree. Rob preferred Liam; Jill always referred to him as Tripp.


            But Rob never came home, and that other little man was never born. Jill miscarried on September 12th, 2001 just hours after she became a widow. The doctors told her, through her morphine-clouded haze, that she had lost so much blood she was lucky to be alive, she had to have three blood transfusions and an emergency hysterectomy. They told her that she would never be able to have another child. She stayed in the hospital for a week. She alternately mourned her husband, her baby boy, and her broken body and ruminated on the thought, ‘Are you lucky to be alive if you are completely dead inside?’


            Linney and Carly were at the hospital every single day. Linney came first thing in the morning and brought breakfast, which Jill didn’t eat and Vivianne, who Jill couldn't look at without breaking down. Poor little Viv looked as hollowed out as Jill felt. Thankfully Viv was staying with Linney and Adam just over in the next town. Linney would stay for a few hours curled up in the bed right next to Jill feeling her warm body shake as she tried so hard to fight her profound grief. Sometimes she would snuggle Viv between them, sometimes, Viv would wander to the nurses' station looking for a snack. Late in the afternoon, when Linney would finally leave to head home to make dinner for Adam and the kids, Carly would show up and stay through the night as Jill cried herself to sleep. Her best friends never once left her side. She will never forget, when she needed them the most, when she was completely falling apart, they held her up. Each and every day until enough time passed and she could function for a few hours at a time on her own. Archer came every day too, like he was atoning for his sins. Jill never blamed him though, it wasn’t his fault. He didn’t force Rob to get on that plane. It was just circumstance. Rob and Archer were close friends as well as business partners. Archer was hurting almost as much as she was. Even before September 11th, Archer was frequently at their house either alone to watch a ballgame with Rob or with a date for dinner or to hang out with their group at a backyard barbecue. If he wasn’t dating anyone special, Jill, Linney and Carly made it their mission to set him up. Archer and Rob called them the sol sisters, simply because Rob knew the Latin word for sun was sol and they had all grown up down the shore and talked endlessly about the memories they had made in the sun and sand and surf.  He would jokingly bemoan the fact that, even though he and Jill lived an hour away from the beach there always seemed to be sand in their bed and he knew the three girls were closer to each other than they were to their own siblings.


            Once Rob was gone though, the dynamic of their friendships had changed. Linney and Carly walked on either side of her and Viv at the church for Rob's memorial service and her son's funeral. Archer, Adam, Drew and Rob's brother Jim were pallbearers for the tiny weightless white casket that held the cremated remains of their son, the over the door Nerf basketball set, the kilt woven in the richly colored deep blue plaid of Rob’s clan that he wore at their wedding, a few pictures from their wedding, college, and several of Rob, Jill and Vivianne documenting their short time together as a family. Linney filled Jill's freezer with enough food to feed her and Vivianne for months. Carly worked hard at cleaning out the unfinished nursery so that Jill would never have to endure that pain. She painted the walls a pale taupe and placed a desk and two burlap club chairs in the room to create a small home office that did not resemble a nursery in the slightest. Carly donated all of the baby furniture to Goodwill and stored Viv’s old toys and such in her own basement. The girls nurtured and loved her back into the world of the living. Her sol sisters became her soul sisters.


            Once Jill was well enough to come home and Vivianne was back in school Archer continued to visit almost every day. Sometimes he brought fresh bagels from Noah's for breakfast, other times he brought Vietnamese noodle bowls or pizza for dinner. When Viv would go to bed Jill and Archer would sit up for hours, sometimes until the sun came up, and talk about how much they missed Rob. They talked about how much they were still hurting, how hard it was to get up every day and how much they hated their respective psychiatrists. They would marvel at how much Viv looked like Rob and how much, since his death, she had matured. Vivianne was the spitting image of her father, thick blue-black hair, huge bright shining eyes, and a permanent expression on her face that always looked like she was about to tell the punch line of a joke. She had his good nature and was funny, popular, and genuinely well-liked. She had Jill’s overachiever streak too though. She played a sport every season, was her class secretary and still made honor roll every term. Jill would worry about her stretching herself too thin, but Archer would always be there to calm her fears and remind her that she and her daughter were cut from the same cloth. 


            Eventually, their friendship turned into something more. They began going out to dinner alone, without Viv. They spent time talking on the phone when they weren’t together. During the day, Archer would call Jill just to hear her voice, and she would anticipate his calls. He was kind, smart, and handsome. He worked out each morning and frequently ran in marathons, and triathlons. He was tall, much taller than Rob, and he had sandy blond hair that would streak in the sun and flop over his left eye if he went more than four weeks between haircuts. His eyes were a crystal-clear blue and his jawlinewas strong and chiseled. Archer was wealthy, he had family money plus he was successful in his own right. The sports marketing company that he had founded had built up a steady and more important, loyal clientele. He hired Rob, whom he met through a mutual friend and then went on to hire eight more employees. AWS Marketing was small but growing steadily each year. Archer was very generous with his employees. Each one owned shares of the company, and if the company performed well, his team was compensated nicely.  Rob quickly moved up to partner. Archer wouldn’t make a business decision without him.  Their offices were downtown in SoHo above a chichi custom furniture showroom. Archer lived a few blocks away in a typically small, overpriced Manhattan loft. 


            Jill and Archer became a couple slowly and tentatively. They weren't even sure when they fell in love, they just got to a point where their lives became completely meshed together. Archer adored Viv, calling her Vivi, which was his pet name for her. Short for Vivacious Vivianne, he loved her as if she were his own flesh and blood. He went to every game, every science fair, and every father-daughter dance. He cheered her many successes and talked her through every disappointment.  He taught her well to take no shit from any guy and the few times her heart did get broken, he gently helped her pick up the pieces. He never asked for more than what he had. He never felt the need to have more children. He knew Jill couldn't biologically have another child and though they could more than afford to adopt several children he was content with both of them. It was an instant family, but for as much as they loved and leaned on each other - there was no spark, no passion between the two of them. It took years before either of them could work up the courage to address the topic. It happened after Vivi went back to college after Christmas break her freshman year. They realized that, as empty nesters, they had no reason to remain together. They were friends. They loved each other dearly but not deeply; as if their entire relationship’s foundation was to raise Vivi to be an exceptional young woman. Once that goal was met, there wasn't anything left for them as a couple. They were leading very separate lives. Archer continued to run his marketing company and compete around the country in triathlons and Jill continued to grow her career as the director of the finance department for the parent company of several small department stores, eventually becoming the company's Executive Vice President. She sat on the board of both NC State's distinguished alumni committee and a September 11th widows and children's charity. She and Archer donated huge sums of money to both annually.


            When they separated Archer gave Jill more than she could ever ask for. She held stock in his company. He paid the mortgage on the Hampton home and the penthouse apartment they owned on the Upper West Side and he made sure there was a huge trust set up for Vivi. He moved out after finding a place near his business and let her decide when and if she wanted to sell the Manhattan apartment. She stayed in the apartment until Vivi finished college. She wanted to make sure Vivi always had a home base. Now Vivi has her own place in Chelsea with a roommate and Jill finally felt that it was time to move forward on her own.


            She returned her attention to the realtor. She just wanted a fair price.  She'd already bought a beautifully refinished pre-war brownstone in Park Slope.  She wasn't ready to go back to the New Jersey suburbs yet, but she wanted some separation between her home life and her work life. She knew once the penthouse was sold, she would feel free. Free of a mediocre married life and free of all that reminded her of the choices she made because she lost Rob. Rob will always be the one true love of her life. It hurt a little to know that, but she did. She knew, even if she met someone after her divorce, she could never love anyone as completely and wholly as she loved Rob. She was ready for a do-over. She was ready to call someplace home. The realtor gave her a price and Jill accepted. They shook hands and signed papers. As she closed the door behind the realtor Jill slowly walked over to the windows that framed Central Park taking in the magnificent view listening to her heartbeat thundering in her ears.


 Wanna read more? Check out Sol Sisters on Amazon -


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