The cruise was long planned to celebrate the 85th birthday of my “second mom.” I grew up two houses away on suburban Long Island and over the years, her family and mine became one, her two daughters my oldest and closest friends, sharing good times and sad.

I helped arrange the cruise and agreed to come, in part because my mom wasn’t well enough to travel. We are spread far apart now-Florida, New York, Connecticut and California and were glad for a few unfettered days together on board a big ship.

Then a little more than a week before we were supposed to sail, my friend’s husband–a high school classmate of mine–died unexpectedly. Amid the shock and grief was the question of what to do about the trip. Should we cancel? Would it be wrong to go anyway? The family and the new widow decided to go ahead. We won’t be partying but we will celebrate life–and the 85th birthday– since, as the new widow told me, you truly never know what is going to happen tomorrow.

I’m glad we’re going. My friend will share my cabin so she won’t be alone. We’ll laugh and we’ll cry. And we’ll be glad for the time together.