Written by Lisa Goich
I spent this past Memorial Day with four girlfriends, in celebration of a mutual landmark birthday. We met five years prior for what we thought at the time was another big birthday, but that’s since been put into perspective. We plan on yet another reunion five years from now, and five years after that and five years after that.
Though we may have a few more lines on our faces, pounds on our bodies and aches in our muscles, when we look at one another we only see the person we’ve always known. The soul of a friendship never ages.
This group of girls have been in my life since the 8th grade. Some of them have known one another since kindergarten. Though we have taken roads in our lives that have spread us out across the country – New York,
Chicago, Michigan, Florida, Los Angeles, you name it – we can always find that common destination that was solidified at a time when puberty, hormones, boys and… did I say boys? …dominated our lives.
Girls need girlfriends. They keep us grounded, sane, stable and laughing. Though romantic partners can make their way in and out of our lives, it’s the girlfriends who always remain a constant. Sure, there are squibbles and squabbles along the way, but if you’re lucky, those dissolve pretty quickly. And what’s left behind is a history that can’t be replicated by anyone else except for this single person “who knew you when.”
No matter how many years pass between you and how many other experiences fill your lives, you can always pick up where you left off as if time didn’t exist. What was true a decade ago, is still familiar today. I often hear people refer to their partner as their “soulmate,” their “best friend.” For better or for worse, I have never categorized my husband
this way. My best friend is a girl who I returned a bicycle to when we were 12. Though we didn’t pinkie-swear our friendship into existence, I think we both knew early on that we would always be there for one another. And we have been. The tears we’ve shed and shared could fill a lake. Through relationships and college, marriages and parental loss, this umbilical cord has connected us through miles and decades.
A girlfriend knows your secrets. She is your living diary. Your breathing journal. She is the person who holds your history in her heart and can tell you when you’re being a jerk or when you’re dipping your feet into unpredictable waters. She is the first one to cheer your accomplishments and share in your victories. She is there to pat you on the back when no one else will.
She is your friend.
In the final days of my mother’s life, her best friend of seven decades came to visit. My mother, 85, curled up in a hospital bed in the middle of her living room. And my godmother, 95, laying opposite my mom on the couch with her feet draped across the back. They sat with each other for hours, sharing news, memories, laughter and tears. If you closed your eyes and listened to their conversation, it could have been that of two 20-year-olds. The only time that mattered at that moment was the ticking of the clock that would soon signal the physical end of their bond. But both knew, that even though the end was near, this friendship would transcend and live forever. In the words of Helen Keller, “So long as the memory of certain beloved friends lives in my heart, I shall say that life is good.”
And life is unequivocally good with my friends in it.