I’m sure I’m not the only person who thinks “MY GIRLFRIENDS ROCK.” To this day, I still have friends I have collected from every stage of my life — elementary School, high school, college, my single (“aren’t we just like those girls on Sex and the City?”) days, through work, and as a mom. All of them have been such a blessing me, not only since my cancer diagnosis at 42 years old, but through every good and bad time I have experienced.
Finding time to see your girlfriends for dinner or a drink usually feels like trying to coordinate a summit with the full United Nations. So a girls’ weekend? That would be Mission Impossible. After countless emails and text messages, we finally found a date and a location that worked for four moms with a total of nine kids. Miracles do happen!
I have been lucky enough to have these particular women in my life for just about 30 years. 30 years!!! These are the types of girlfriends who you can do absolutely nothing with and it can rank as one of your all-time favorite memories. This weekend proved to be no different. We had more fun lying around our hotel room, reminiscing about the insane things we did together as kids than we have ever had at any fancy dinner. Who needs pilates to work your core when you can laugh so hard that your stomach still hurts the next morning from all the laughing you’ve done?
Life is random and there is no way to predict who will come into our lives and why. We find our friends in many different ways. Because you just happen to live in the same town and go to the same school. Because you just happen to be in the same college dormitory lounge deciding to pledge the same sorority. Because you just happen to meet at a time in life when it seems like no one else can possibly understand what you are going through, whether it’s being single when it feels like every other person you know is not or as a new (or even somewhat “experienced”) mom.
Or just because somehow the universe knew you needed that person to be part of your life, whether your paths crossed in grammar school or in college, at the office or at church, on your kid’s soccer fields or in your neighborhood. You were brought together because you needed each other in some way, even if you didn’t yet know why.
We do, however, make the choice about the friends we keep in our lives, because of who they become to us after those seemingly random circumstances threw us together. These are the people who you can count on to make you laugh so hard you cry…or when you’re crying so hard they know how to make sure you laugh. They are the ones who have your back, NO MATTER WHAT.
When we make these friendships, especially the ones you make as children, you don’t imagine that the hands you held onto to skip across the playground will be the same hands you hold at your father – and mother’s – funerals. That the arms that hugged you when you felt left out because you weren’t invited to a party or a school dance will be the same that hug you after you lose a pregnancy. Or that the friends you called to assure you it would all be okay after you’ve had your heart broken the first time (and second and third….) will be the same you call when you hear the best – and worst – news of your life.
We can’t imagine when we build these friendships at age 12, 22, 32 or even 42 what the future holds for each of us. We don’t know the types of friends we will need to be or need to have. We can’t comprehend the joy and heartbreak that lie ahead of us…and how much we will need our girlfriends by our side to navigate adolescence (our own and, god help me, our children’s), the pressures of our jobs (and the sadness of losing them), the bliss and agony of motherhood, the hard work of building and maintaining a marriage (and the grief that comes from dismantling one) and other matters of life and death.
I never doubted that I had the most amazing group of people in my life, but it is remarkable how a diagnosis like mine can confirm what you already always believed. Whether it’s one best girlfriend or dozens, we all hopefully have the type of friends who make your life better just by being a part of it. Who you’ve done things with that still make you smile the biggest smile or cringe at the thought. Who you have memories with that make you laugh so hard there are tears streaming down your face, you’re clutching your stomach and worried you just might pee your pants.
Besides what’s a little pee between best friends?