We have known each other for more than four decades and together, carry a basket stuffed full of memories. We all know which one of our teachers threw erasers in elementary school and which of our mothers’ houses we could sneak out of in the middle of the night when we were teenagers. Oh, and we know which one of our classmates ate June bugs just to get attention. A long time ago, we scooped sundae glasses full of Rocky Road ice cream and had slumber parties with endless games of Truth or Dare. Then, we grew up (a little) and started down our separate paths toward futures that required bridesmaids. The dresses purchased and worn to those weddings are distant memories frozen in faded photographs of the girls we used to be.
Our children are grown now, but we remember the advice we gave to one another, and the sweet newborn babies we held in our arms. The work and worry and frustration of those busy years is gone. Those among us who are grandmothers share pictures and stories about new babies and have a glow about them as they tell those of us who aren’t that the best is yet to come.
When we gather, even for just a weekend, we are young again. We empty the basket, taking out our memories one by one. We talk about our mothers, the ones we’ve lost and the ones we have left as we fill in the blanks for each other, searching for truths about ourselves. And then, because it is what good women, good friends do, we listen and do our best to fill in the empty places in the hearts of the ones who have already become motherless, or childless….knowing that this is impossible, but trying just the same.
When I look at each of these women, I am humbled and grateful. I know their stories by heart. They are strong women, warrior women. For over forty years, they have been my guides and my teachers. I am a better friend and spouse and mother and daughter because of what I’ve learned from them, what I learn from each of them every time we are lucky enough to gather somewhere besides the planet of Facebook where the word “friend” has become a verb instead of a noun.
And that planet? It’s a really poor substitute for a weekend with my friends.
Real friends. Good friends. Old friends.