I’m back from the fourth reunion of childhood girlfriends since 2010. We were born in the same year; three resided in the same neighborhood; our parents were friends; we were raised in the same faith; we know each other’s siblings. We’ve been friends since kindergarten.
Along with all these similarities are differences. Geographic, to be sure. The closest link between any two of us is over 800 miles. We differ in economics, vocations, passions, politics, tastes, theology, and in all the other ways people change.
The thing is that we six were not bff’s growing up. I think the phrase friendship by proximity describes some of our early years. Sometimes we hung out together because that’s who was available. Now that our friendship has come of age, we are repeating stories! (We = me, sigh…)
This treasure, these friendships, are more precious to us than diamonds. Other than checking our phones and taking calls from husbands and children, our time is unplugged. We don’t watch movies; we don’t go shopping (except for groceries). It is time to attend, to be present, to listen, to share, to truly know each other. We laugh and guffaw, we cry (even the non-criers among us), we eat, we swim, we sing.
We established a protocol at our first reunion that we always follow. We could (and do) have a fabulous time cooking communally, grabbing a cuppa, letting the conversation meander like a river. But eventually we have a formal time of focus. One friend shares her heart: what’s good, what’s hard, what’s changed, what’s real. This is a time of transparency and trust. We take notes, ask questions. It can also be a time of discovery, when the perception of girlfriends translates truth we didn’t before see. Then we pray, asking God to help, to intervene, to strengthen, to bless our friend. Then we sing the songs we grew up singing that are imprinted on our souls. Rinse and repeat.
These friendships are for each of us a bonus. We all have sisters — not just sisters, but close sisters with whom we regularly share our lives and hearts.
Two stories. Meeting in the airport has always been an exciting moment. We’re giddy and goofy and garrulous. This year, however, Ruth’s father died the Monday before our gathering. She drove to Virginia on Tuesday, buried him on Thursday, and flew out to Phoenix on Saturday. My plane arrived five minutes before hers. I parked myself in front of the gate to welcome her. Sitting at the back of the plane, she was one of the last passengers to deplane. Seeing each other we burst into sobs, running into a hug. It was a spectacle, but we didn’t care. All our griefs to share.
Eileen’s plane came in later than the others. Nancy’s sister Kathy picked her up from the airport. Eileen didn’t want to inconvenience her. Are you kidding? Kathy replied. When we were first married, we flew to Chicago, but couldn’t rent a car because I was under 25. We called my mom in Phoenix and asked her what to do. She told us to call your (Eileen’s) dad. We called him, he dropped everything and drove to O’Hare to pay for our rental. I am only too happy to give you a ride. More tears, and the gift of an previously unknown story about her dad.
One evening the Gibson sisters joined us for an old-fashioned hymn sing. I guess reading the lyrics on your phone wasn’t old-fashioned! Those girls (ahem, women) can SING!! Lots of nostalgia and gorgeous harmonies and rejoicing in a heritage of music.
After four girlfriend gatherings, I remain astonished at the profound transforming power of this deep friendship. It has all the hallmarks of grace: unexpected, unearned, unsought, undeserved. Praise God from Whom all blessings flow.
You are such a blessing to one another. Thanks be to God for dear friends!
love and prayers, jep
Oh, yes! Boundless gratitude!
Thank you for putting it into words, Carol. Our times together are truly a gift. Deep, real, sweet, transparent, rich, filling. Such a blessing!
You are welcome!
Always find myself smiling when I see your sweet faces!! Bet the music was harmonious….after all, I lived next door to the most musically gifted Harpers and heard all kinds of beautiful music coming out of the Greenfield home, plus sang in a trio with Mary Gibson and Gloria Duncan. And couldn’t help thinking of all your precious mothers that I loved and served with in the Laurel kitchen, etc. My prayers were with the Stultz family recently…..would love Darlene’s address, if possible. My wonderful friendship with precious Frankie Pullen and fam, continues on, almost daily texts go her way, altho many miles apart. A real prayer partner through over 56
plus years. Had many a delicious meal around the Stultz table and Patterson home. Oh, ‘scuse the reminiscing…….you all brought it on!! Very precious memories while I still have the ability to do so!! So, continue on enjoying one another – you are truly blessed!
I hadn’t remembered you in a trio with Mary Gibson and Gloria Duncan, but it’s coming back to me. I can picture you with your millinery creations! 🙂 I will send you Darlene’s address through email.
Those Gibson girls have pipes! Gorgeous voices that weave together into a mult-textured thing of beauty.
Please keep reminiscing…we love it. Those memories are oh so precious. Love you, I do!