The most beautiful,
what a human being can leave
is a smile on the face of those
who think about them.
Inspector Meg Thatcher sat at her desk, staring at the phone as if it was something hostile.
She couldn't believe it, hadn't realized it yet.
She simply refused to believe it. A friend, well, more or less known, had called and told her that her best (and only true) friend Ingrid had died.
The engine of life had simply failed her.
Ingrid was even a year younger than herself.
Meg remembered the friendly, open face of her best friend.
She was a person who could make anyone around her laugh. Meg couldn't remember ever seeing her in a bad mood.
On the contrary, when Meg was in a bad mood, Ingrid was there, cheering her up.
Ingrid lived with Meg and Charlotte in a shared flat. At that time in Paris, while studying.
There they had met.
Ingrid and Charlotte were looking for another roommate. Paris was an expensive place.
When Meg appeared on the scene, the two girls decided that she would fit in with them and took her in.
First on sample.
But the sample quickly became friendship.
The three were quite different.
Alone from the origin.
Meg himself came from Ottawa / Canada. Her parents were well placed and enabled her to study.
Charlotte came from Liverpool / England. She had no father and could only afford the study because she had talent and got support.
Ingrid originally came from Sweden, but when she was 12, she emigrated with her parents to the United States. To Chicago.
Chicago, of all places!
They spent a great time in Paris. The happiest time of their life.
Later they met sporadically, because everyone lived in a different corner of the world, but often they phoned or wrote letters.
Ingrid had a wonderful talent for writing humorous letters.
When Meg had her first heartache, Ingrid spontaneously came to Canada to comfort her.
They booked a canoe trip and spent a week in the wilderness.
After that Meg thought she could do anything.
When she came to Chicago, the friends saw each other regularly.
Ingrid had a nice boyfriend. Chris. He looked good, was helpful and seemed to be carrying her on hands.
Meg liked him very much.
But once, when Ingrid was still at work, Chris was alone at home, as Meg passed by, he made her advances.
Terrified, Meg refused.
She thought for a long time whether to tell Ingrid, but didn't dare.
A few months later, at Ingrid's and Chris's engagement party, Charlotte was there as well, it happened again.
They all had a drink and were slightly tipsy.
Chris offered Meg and Charlotte, with both of them ...
Terrified, Meg fled the room.
Ingrid found her on the terrace. Without jacket and it was pretty cold.
Meg was terribly upset and angry.
She told Ingrid what Chris had done. Multiple times.
Without much thought Ingrid went in, threw Chris the engagement ring at his feet and yelled at him, he should disappear from her life.
Then she continued to party with her friends as if nothing had happened.
The next night she cried her soul out and Meg and Charlotte comforted her.
They talked, reminisced and ate tons of chocolate and ice cream.
Sweets always helped.
The next day, they went jogging together and went to the gym and Ingrid pretended that nothing had happened.
She dismissed the matter with Chris in her own humor and was grateful to Meg that she had opened her eyes.
The friends decided never to fall in love again.
When Meg came to Chicago and took over the consulate, she called her friend Ingrid first.
She visited her at the consulate and congratulated her on the post. Ingrid was a bit worried that Meg was a little overwhelmed with this kind of work, but Meg said she would soon get a lot of support in the form of an incredibly handsome constable.
Only currently he was still in hospital, after a gunshot wound.
She showed Ingrid the photograph in her officer's file and Ingrid whistled through her teeth.
They both laughed.
Meg told Ingrid about Fraser.
She told her that she was as nervous as a schoolgirl, even though she, Ingrid, and Charlotte had vowed never to fall in love again.
Ingrid laughed and said that the guy could be an exception.
She wanted to meet him, but unfortunately it shouldn't come to that anymore.
Ingrid had to work abroad for a year. Then she went back to Sweden for a couple of months to clarify some family matters.
When she came back there was no opportunity and then ... today, the call.
They wanted to meet next week for coffee.
Ingrid should finally get to know Fraser, Meg's man of her dreams.
He didn't know that he was the man of her dreams, but Meg knew her friend Ingrid.
She didn't mince words and would tell him.
"Sir? Everything okay?"
"What? Oh ... Fraser. "
Meg sniffed, fumbled a handkerchief out of the box on her desk and blew her nose.
Benton Fraser looked at her in surprise.
He had never seen his superior cry before.
Or show any feelings at all.
"Meg? Did something happen? Can I help you in any way?"
His use of her first name broke the rest of the ice and she began to sob uncontrollably.
Without a word, Ben walked around the desk and hugged her.
Whatever it was, when she was ready, she'd talk about it.
"Have you ever lost someone who meant a lot to you?" She asked sadly.
Ben felt a stab in his heart.
Of course he had!
More than once.
But that was not important now, what was important was, that he could comfort Meg.
"Yes," he replied softly, "I am quite familiar with this feeling."
Meg produced something like a sad giggle that hit Ben right in the heart.
She knew under what circumstances Fraser's parents were killed.
"I'm sorry, Ben." She whispered.
He smiled gently and stroked her back.
"Would you like to talk about it?"
Then she began to tell and felt how it relieved her.
She remembered all the funny stories she'd shared with Ingrid.
When she finished, she felt better.
"Thanks, Ben." She said softly.
Ben offered to go to the funeral with her and she gratefully accepted the offer.
The funeral had been sad and beautiful at the same time.
All her friends were there. Also Charlotte. After the funeral, she asked Meg if she should bring her home, but Ben, knowing that Meg didn't want company right now, took Meg's hand and said he would accompany her.
Charlotte smiled knowingly and said then she would drive back to the hotel and visit Meg tomorrow.
At Meg's door, Ben wanted to say goodbye, but she asked him if he wanted to come in.
"If you don't mind?" He answered hesitantly.
"You're welcome. I don't want to be alone right now." She said exhausted.
Ben sat on the couch in Meg's living room.
Meg had made tea.
She was bombed-out. The funeral and celebration afterwards had leached her emotionally.
Never had she felt so exhausted.
"Ingrid always wanted to meet you, Ben," she said sadly. "And now it is too late."
Ben took her in his arms and stroked her hair.
"Oh, Meg. I'm sure she watched us today, wherever she is now."
Sighing, Meg leaned against him and closed her eyes, exhausted.
Ben said softly, "Thank you, Meg. For having been able to meet your friend Ingrid through the stories you have told me and this funeral service. I know now that she was a very special person. We would certainly have become good friends."
"Thank you, Ben." Meg replied tenderly. "I lost a friend but found another friend for it."
With a smile, she fell asleep in Ben's arms. She felt secure.