Monday, August 11, 2014
An Ocean of Friendship
We came from north (me), south, and east to gather at this cabin on a lake in the very western part of our very western state. Such gatherings began for us over a decade ago, we might say. Or almost fifty years ago. Some of us have been friends just about that long. And so this long weekend together was much like all the others, even like the slumber parties of our middle school years when we stayed up too late, laughed too much, and probably ate more sweets than were good for us.
But these weekends have also come to be something else. Something more happens between us as we gather each summer. Eleven years ago, after years of raising children and only swapping Christmas cards, a call went out that one of us had received an unexpected diagnosis. We packed our weekend bags and came running. We'd missed an earlier call and a different diagnosis when our children were younger and we were in the midst of it. We weren't going to miss it again. And so we gather.
Those first couple of yearly gatherings were trips back in time. We hadn't found our footing in the lake waters of the present so we traveled down rivers of memories. Those memories--mostly from high school, when the last of us had moved to our home town and we'd become "The girls"--were enough to set us laughing from Friday night to Sunday noon, and we enjoyed every second. And we still have plenty more to haul out (oh, trust me, PLENTY more!)...but from where I sat in the boat (I'm the one with the really thin face in back), they aren't enough. If you're more than an occasional visitor to this blog, that won't come as a big surprise. I like real and I like deep and I'm happiest when we can mix it with some laughter in a great sea of conversation.
Slowly, over the course of time, that's exactly what has happened with these women, my "Girls". We've gotten to know each others' children. We've heard each others' stories. Some of those stories are hilarious, some, sadly, are traumatic. Some years are full of joy and life and more than we might ask or imagine: weddings, babies, sons returning from war. Truly we've listened to the stuff of movies. But sometimes a year has been so difficult one of us would just as soon knock it from her chronology. Parents' deaths, children struggles, spouses' betrayals. Come to think of it, such stories are the stuff of movies, too.
What I love is that now, as we float in this lake or that pool or sit around a campfire or on couches in a cabin, we're in it together. We're really in it. We've become "The Girls" again, each other's 'go-to' people. 911s (after our families, of course--though we're family, too, I think). I love that we know each other at the bone marrow-level, we get each others' personalities, we know how we fit (I'm a talker, for example), we'll be there in an instant when called, we laugh in the joys and cry in the suffering and love each other in all of it. Yes, we're the Pacific Ocean of friendship, spanning a life-time. as endless as the waves, as constant as the tides. And we can carry each other. I love that. I saw it in action this weekend and I am blessed to be a part of it.