I've been out of internet range for the last half week because it was the annual 'girls' weekend' with my life-long friends. It was pointed out by one of us that these get-aways have been intentional for 10 years now, making this a rather special time together. Knowing this MIGHT be why I decided last summer to make quilts to give each of them. However, my brain doesn't work that way--you know, marking occasions that way. I just decided because I decided. One quilt was given last summer. The rest were meant to be finished and mailed off on each birthday. Then someone (me!) proposed to bring them to this summer's party.
Sooo I did. I spent a year searching for exactly the right fabric all over the world (in one case, anyway). Online, in stores up and down the west coast (and even in our hometown). Looking at patterns, making up my own patterns, thinking of the woman and she likes, what aesthetic she likes. Finally, cutting into fabric, praying over each cut, over each stitch, living our friendships, imagining reactions. In two cases, after making an entire quilt, I was uneasy enough with the finished I made a second quilt (and was right to do so for one of them. For the other, the choice is still excruciating!).
My family's been living it all with me, of course (only one quilt made Beve and J raise a ruckus. They love it so much they wanted me to keep it for our own home). Beve, who, of course, knows all these high school friends, wanted to helicopter in for the giving of the quilts. "I'll take the pictures," he told me. "Then I'll just slip out. You won't even know I was there." Obviously! A legal giant is easy to miss (sf).
It was the best time we've ever had together, I think. A decade ago, though we had long history together, there was a whole lot of reminiscing and laughing about our past when we gathered. And less buy-in to the idea of this week-end, maybe. But now, we've been doing this so long, we're really in each other's lives. We can get down and deep and dirty with the pain and muck and cares in the safe zone that is our friendship, without having to explain the back-story. It's like picking up the conversation we laid down when we said goodbye--was it really a year ago? There were plenty of laughs, of course. We have a finely-honed sense of the ridiculous and bring it out in each other. But there were tears, too.
And I LOVE THAT. Yep, I love, love, love that we cry together. In all ways.
It makes me cry with joy that we're so important to each other that it was a no-brainer to move the location and time so that one of us could get there. And cry, too, that she was so moved that we'd do it that she cried. I love that another of us stayed in town to see an injured dad and, providentially (God plans SO well) was there to be co-pilot with that woman.
One night at dinner, we talked about what charms us about our husbands. We were asked this by the only one who is divorced. And what awed me when I thought of it later, is that those men (and 5 of the 6 are graduates of our high school!!!) are very similar kinds of people: service-oriented, wise, kind, funny. Looking at them, you might not guess it, but it's really quite amazing. And though they all annoy us (and yes, we also spoke quickly of these things--but didn't linger there; as I said, "What he is is far more important than what he isn't!"), we came away from the conversation reminded again of how blessed we are. Even the one asking felt blessed.
So, the quilts:
I was pretty antsy to give them Friday night, when they arrived in my car (I'd come out a day earlier--yep, that's logistics!) with the last two 'girls.' And began marking time about as soon as we got our hugs in. Then got a little shy when the moment came. All sorts of what-if's swirled through my head. My already-sweaty body went into over-drive. But it was a blessing to me to bless them. And they loved their quilts--each of them. Hallelujah!!!
This is taken by the one who received her quilt a year ago. And we're all wearing bows from the packages of the gorgeous candle lanterns (on the table) that we received from Lace (right behind me), because we changed our gathering location. On the far right, our hostess for the weekend, holds two quilts because she can't decide which one she wants.
Love my 'girls', even in the second half of our 50s. I'm glad we're who we are, glad we get to continue to live out life together. Yep, it's like our very lives have been quilted together--of so many things I can hardly list them, but I pray that these quilts will remind them of that--not just of me, but of all of us and who we are to each other.
See you at the river next year.