True girlfriends can’t always be there when you need them. Sometimes they don’t even know that you do. But, the very second that they either suspect or realize that you are in trouble they step in with an earnest desire to support or at least to understand; and they most certainly never minimize you or set you aside for convenience.
One girlfriend in particular tested my understanding of friendship two years ago. She wasn’t there when I really needed her. I actually even understood why. In confronting her I was graceless, but I was also dealing with a very sick child and not able to do any better than that on that particular day. When I told her that her absence hurt she chose to minimize my abuse history, attack my maturity, and sarcastically say “I truly hope you are now surrounded by friends who perfectly fill your needs.” Well, I’m not. I don’t expect to be. I never did. BUT…I do understand friendship now for what it is supposed to be in all of its complexity and reciprocity. And, for that, I am grateful.
This weekend, three girlfriends whom I have known for 33 years waited patiently for me to finish work on Friday to take me to the lake house. They refused to let me shop knowing that money has been tight with medical bills. They covered me with a blanket while I slept in front of the fire and loaned me their dogs to cuddle. They fed me baby back ribs, chicken wings and other food that I never make at home. And when I had eaten too much…they simply and quietly loaned me bigger pants without a word or any judgment. They let me meander the beach collecting driftwood and thinking while they did the dishes. They helped me up and down the stairs when my left side wouldn’t cooperate. They made me laugh until there was a “near incident.” They listened. And let me cry when needed. And then they made me laugh again. They filled my glass without me having to ask before I even knew it was close to being empty. We danced to bad 80s music. I rocked a lampshade on my head. (Okay, maybe that was more for them than for me). They even left me in charge of the remote to watch the Tigers/Sox game even though 2 of the 3 don’t follow baseball and the third is a Notre Dame fan who ultimately missed the USC game. They painted my toenails and I returned the favor. They let me rest. And they loved me just because.
About reciprocity…today I don’t feel that I can repay them for any of this. It was exactly what I needed this weekend, precisely when I needed it. And they knew this before I did because when we are tired or hurting we don’t always know what to ask. I didn’t have to say a word.
I can’t always be there when my girlfriends need me. Sometimes I won’t even know that they do. But, the very second that I either suspect or realize that they are in trouble I will step in with an earnest desire to support or at least to understand; and I will most certainly never minimize them or set them aside for convenience. And if I fail to notice I also know that the others will tap me gently and say, “Hey…let’s take her to the lake…” or something equally loving.
There are no sour grapes here. I have no room for that in my life. Instead, I feel gratitude for the contrast and even more gratitude for true girlfriends.
Thank you, ladies. Here’s to “Aha” and many more sunsets together. My turn next time.