I sat looking around the table, gazing at these ten women who are my friends. Conversation ebbed and flowed, mostly including the entire group but occasionally breaking off into more intimate exchanges between two or three. I thought to myself, “How did I get so lucky?” I was surrounded by fierce, amazing women who are loving and caring and genuine. They have known me since we were 18 years old – another lifetime, really – Before cable television, VCRs, cell phones or the Internet. More importantly, before marriages, divorces, children, grandchildren. Before our parents became old and died, before our spouses got sick or died suddenly or left us to fight wars. Before careers that fulfilled, disappointed, ended. The ties that bind us have survived all of that, in addition to our own personal growing pains and an often unforgiving aging process.
Life moves forward and people change. Yet, we are as close as we have ever been. We meet a few times during the year but only once as a full group, without significant others or the pressure of time. For three days, we talk and share and laugh and, sometimes, cry. I learn so much from them. This pool of information, experience and wisdom is better than Google, encyclopedia Britannica and PBS combined.
I sat in awe.
Then, it was Saturday night. We put aside the heavy stuff and the board games. After a full day of feeding each other breakfast, packing a picnic lunch, hanging at the beach and making dinner, we set up a makeshift stage on the back deck. These smart, hard working, caring (and often exhausted) women entertained one another. With a three-day notice, each had put together a routine that included an original character, costume, dialog and song. We had props, music, giveaways and singalong lyrics. I laughed until I cried and I might have peed myself a little. It was a no-holes barred uproarious time, thanks to our prior agreement of no cameras. We returned to a pre-Facebook time when we could let ourselves be inappropriately raunchy, politically incorrect and, well, downright sacreligious.
It was amazing.
On Sunday, we said our goodbyes, commenting how quickly the time went and making promises to do it again, perhaps before another year escapes us. We returned to caring for our grandchildren, our aging parents, our homes and our jobs. We are teachers, nurses, social workers, fundraisers, coaches, caregivers. We are wives, mothers, grandmothers, daughters, sisters. And, in the midst of all of that, we are friends. It’s a role that often falls by the wayside as our lives go in different directions and we juggle to balance all of those things. Despite ourselves, our bond grows stronger with time. They have been part of my life for 44 years. We are unique. We are incredible. We are phenomenal.
And, I am blessed.