Reunited, Reconnected, Real


  
Nancy, Barbara, Audrey, Eileen, Carol, Ruth


We hadn’t all been together since 1971. And, honestly, back then we weren’t all that together. Our friendships as young teen-aged girls were fluid.  Some appeared to have evaporated.  But a residue of goodwill and lingering love remained strong after almost 40 years. 


  


We hold a joint tenancy in our childhood.  A childhood of bobby socks, black patent leather shoes, of fancy hats, pretty dresses and bubbling enthusiasm.





And we love the Lord Jesus Christ.

We were raised by (some of) the pillars of Lombard Gospel Chapel.  Our dads and moms were quality men and women who invested themselves in serving people.  In a sense they mortgaged themselves to the Lord. Look at the photos and you see ordinary people. But they were beyond extraordinary.  Brilliant, creative, hospitable, warm, beautiful, sacrificial, they left a swath behind them of people whose lives were touched hugged forever changed. However, they could also be cranky, remote, hurting, conflicted, angry.  We know.  We are their daughters. 


 


In July, in the space of 24 hours, we found each other.  Emails flew back and forth. It became imperative that we be together under one roof.  We were flung across the country; Audrey lived in England but was moving to Albania.  It probably won’t work out to get together, but let’s try.  Ruth organized details, we bought tickets, Eileen whipped up spreadsheets, Nancy learned to click Reply All (♥ you, Nancy!), and finally we were in the Atlanta airport Atrium adding a link with each arrival. One cabin, six friends, 66 hours.


 


Eileen’s husband transported us from the airport to their home.  Frank made a killer Italian meal (lasagna, chicken escalopes with Marsala, sausages, a Caprese salad, bread, olives and pickles) served on the Desert Rose china Eileen inherited from her mom.  A traditional Italian meal is never the food on the table, but the people around it. It was the perfect prelude to our cabin time.  We talked and laughed through the meal, mingling memories, laughter and great food. 





We had 66 hours. We wanted to structure our time wisely.  Enter focus time.  Each girlfriend told her story, taking as long as needed.  With background sounds of rain falling and birds cawing, one quiet voice was heard. We cried, we laughed, we listened, we took notes. We asked questions, spoke encouraging words. Then the five of us prayed: blessings, thanksgivings and intercessions.  We sang old songs in that tight a capella harmony we grew up with.  She showed us her pictures.  It took at least three hours per person





We arrived at the reunion ready to be real. Like an onion, we peeled through all the protective layers until the core was visible. One thread that weaved its way through our childhood stories was the importance of appearances. If there were problems in the home, we put on happy faces and pretended there weren’t. At the cabin, there was no pretense. At the end of our weekend we knew each other.  Isn’t that one of our deepest longings, to be fully known and completely loved?

 



After one friend finished her story, the heavy silence of grief blanketed us.  We discovered that normal for us included pain.  In every case.  Cheerful and thankful hearts we have, but hearts that are acquainted with sorrow.  We called our time friend therapy.





We ate incredible meals. Each member of the Sisterhood of “In Jesus’ Name Amen, Let’s Dance!” provided  a scrumptious meal. Frittata, Chai, Enchiladas, Baked Blueberry French Toast, Cashew Chicken, fantastic salad. We are, after all, our mothers’ daughters and our mothers produced a lifetime of amazing meals.
 



Here was a gathering of six strong women.  Six smart women.  Whatever mistakes our parents made, they did something right.  A whole lot of somethings right. 


 


It was one of the best weekends of my life.  Our expectations were high, but our experience soared.  We don’t know why we were given such a gift, such a mercy.  It was a catharsis, a cleansing, a completion.  It sounds weird for 53-year-old women to say, but as of this weekend our childhood is officially closed.  What doesn’t make sense doesn’t make a difference.  We are changed.  And we belong to each other. It was an epic weekend, a monumentally joyful time, a threshold to heaven.
 

Truly great friends are hard to find,

difficult to leave

and impossible to forget.


 

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15 thoughts on “Reunited, Reconnected, Real

  1. I can’t imagine…I can’t imagine being connected to so many for so long and so thoroughly – we moved…often.  I can’t imagine the wonderful time ya’ll had but I’m sure that I’m jealous! How absolutely lovely!  

  2. What an incredible gift. Being raised by secular parents in a fragmented family in a fragmented age I have no such legacy. But my children, by the grace of God, shall, as they are raised in His church. And you have given me the encouragement I needed to continue on in that church when I feel like relationships are hard. So my kids can have that, even if I never do. 

  3.  Dinah Craik’s poem entitled *Friendship* is a nice compliment to your sweet tribute ~ Oh, the comfort—     the inexpressible comfort of feeling safe with a person—     having neither to weigh thoughts nor measure words,     but pouring them all right out,     just as they are,     chaff and grain together;     certain that a faithful hand will take and sift them,     keep what is worth keeping,     and then with the breath of kindness blow the rest away. I’m so glad y’all were able to make this reunion happen.

  4. I am blown away by this post. It plays along with thoughts I’ve been having about my childhood and growing up years, and things going on with my daughters and my brother’s daughters. i need to think about this, and will probably email/call you to discuss in the coming weeks. Thank you, Carol.

  5. Wow, Carol…I sit here stunned. That was a glorious thing to share. My heart is warmed and thankful for God’s faithfulness to his children. You wrote this so well that it was truly vicarious for me.The Lord Bless you (some more ) and keep you.Archie

  6. Wow . . . I’m so happy for you. I have had a few similar experiences, the most notable being in 2000 when I got to attend a reunion in Zambia to celebrate my old boarding school’s 75th anniversary–the same school where my daughter now teaches! And in 2004 I was reunited with my best friend from childhood whom I hadn’t seen for 27 years. I was shocked at how strong our bond still was!Also, I had no idea you were from a Brethren background. That school where I grew up is a Brethren school and we currently attend a Brethren assembly.

  7. Thank you, Carol, for sharing this wonderful story. This experience will last for years! So,…….how *did* you all find each other within 24 hours? Sounds like everyone is geographically spread apart. I think this is so great!~Janie

  8. Pingback: The Gift of Deep Friendship | A Living Pencil

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