Member Musings

Member Musings features the reflections and thoughts of an NPC member. This month’s featured member is Iris Shur.


All of my best friends weave themselves into the fabric of my life. One of them ripped out a piece of that fabric recently when she died. She was Bonnie, my best friend from high school.

Bonnie and I walked to high school every school day for four years. Now, walking to school may not seem to be a big deal, but this was in Buffalo, New York. Think icy sidewalks and huge mounds of snow. Think three miles each way. Years later, when I was visiting Buffalo with my family, I wanted to show my children how far I had walked to school each day. We clocked it. Guess what? It was only one mile! Well, it seemed like three miles.

But in that mile each way Bonnie and I shared every detail of our lives as we puffed on the cigarettes that probably killed her with lung cancer.

Bonnie got married right out of high school to a “much older” man in his 20s. I disapproved. She should, I thought, go to college, have a career and date several men before getting married.

Eventually we lost touch. Many years went by and her children were born, my children were born, she divorced twice, married yet again and lost what she called “the love of my life.” We hadn’t shared all of that.

About five years ago, my “best friend from birth” phoned me. She had run into Bonnie and Bonnie wanted to reconnect. Was it OK to give her my phone number? Of course. Ten minutes later my phone rang and Bonnie and I covered, in a matter of hours, those thirty or so years that had passed since we’d last shared our lives. You know the feeling—it was if we had spoken the day before. We picked up where we had left off. It felt so good to both of us.

We spoke on the phone every couple of weeks after we were reunited. Bonnie was the most non-judgmental person I knew. I could tell her anything and she would make me feel good about it. She particularly loved my newspaper articles and read them online. I even got her to write one for her local paper and it was published. She wrote about having a party telephone line as a child. It was funny.

Bonnie couldn’t wait to hear about my latest escapade. She tended to be a homebody.

Finally I convinced her to visit me in Florida. I loved introducing her to my friends here and even gave her a surprise lunch with other Buffalonians living here.

Not long ago, I found out that Bonnie was in hospice. She died within a few days.

Bonnie held a piece of my history. Now it is gone. I have to admit that I feel sorrier for myself than for Bonnie. I profited from her presence. She helped me with my problems and made me feel important and talented and all kinds of good things. I miss her so much.

Although Bonnie’s death was a heart-wrenching experience for me, my thoughts were also on the cause of her death. Would I be next? We started smoking at the same time—at age 15—and we stopped smoking at the same time nearly 50 years later. You can imagine that I am very fearful that I, too, will succumb to the cancer that took her life.

I hope that at least one young smoker will read about me and my friend Bonnie. Perhaps I will save the life of someone else’s best friend.


Do you have something on your mind you would like to share with your fellow NPC members? Email your Member Musings to Penny Fisher at


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