We came together for a weekend, five women in our fifties (well, one almost at that mile marker), friends for twenty-five years. Two years since our last in-person gathering, the world has changed. Four more kids have left the nest. Two fathers have passed, and one marriage.
I look forward to these convenings with a fervor. I love these women. They are brilliant and kind and fun. They helped me pass the Bar Exam, harness a Baby Bjorn, and pack a son for college. Their grace and perseverance, and their belief in me, carries me when I waver. They remember parts of me I have forgotten — most that I am happy to have back.
Our reunions, however, are not for reminiscing. This one especially is for extended hugs. For catching up. For checking in on the health and welfare of parents and kids. For running career options past a trusted council. For counsel. We eat. Drink. Cook. Walk. Float. Laugh. Cry. Laugh. Commiserate. Question. Debate. There are some things I do not share. Things I hold back because I have not yet spoken them to myself. Things to simmer on and bring back next time.
As we say goodbye, one passes a greeting and a message from her mother: You are so lucky to have each other.
I know this. And I also know that I take our friendship for granted, despite my best efforts, like I take the ocean for granted. It has been so reliable for so long.
How do you gather the gratitude you recognize in your head, so it can explode to bursting in your heart as you know it should? Is it a magic trick? Is it like a sponge holding water, invisible until you squeeze it and your hands and wrists are drenched? Are there things you can appreciate only when you lack them, like a hungry person longs for food the way a sated person cannot? The camaraderie, support and love of true friends over decades leaves me here, a saturated heart so full it cannot imagine life without it.