The women who fortify me gather ‘round like a virtual pashmina ~ never at the same time yet always ~ and they whisper their support through the years as a strong wind at my back pushing me forward and a gentler headwind keeping me upright. It comes in forms unexpected that rush about with an easy chatter. A bag of groceries and Smithwick’s on my front step when I have been crying all day and am too weary to shop. Soft fingertips through my hair but without the expectation. Salty chicken soup that makes my home smell like home. “Drive by hugs.” Butterfly bushes to welcome me to a new chapter. Safely guarded childhood memories of four - singing sharp, the LifeSaver Game, and buckwheat pancakes after a night in contraband Jordache jeans. Kindness in the absence of judgment when my legs won’t carry me as fast or as far on a run together. Frosting on our noses at every black tie occasion. Pasta with fresh basil and none of the effort while I nurse my newborn twins in front of the bay window. The courageous and honest question I should have answered honestly before venturing down the aisle.
Acknowledgment that my butt is indeed too big for my frame and a long gander at it in the mirror before we head to the lake anyway. Putting joy back on my daughter’s face when she can finally ride a horse again. Putting relief on that same face months before by delivering things of importance, like Popeye’s biscuits and tampons, to her hospital bed. Assembling entire rooms of furniture with nothing but an allen wrench at the age of 65. The sound of Jenny’s paws punctuating your loving message that I can’t change others ~ only myself. Beach umbrellas, lost bikini bottoms, and an ocean of tears together while nobody keeps score. Stogies in the “Man Cave” so I can learn to break the rules.
Loving curiosity about the “me” parts of me like my writing and slow progress on The Hummingbird’s Nest. Looking my kids in the eye when you teach them, coach them, talk to them, or take their senior portraits. After all, they are an extension of me. The feel of the scars from fireworks debris, salmonella-like-poisoning-of-unknown-origin and drunken wrestling; and the happiness that wells up around those ridiculous events. 7,027 miles home just in time for tea. The brush of an owl’s feather as you bring your healing to bear on my broken body. A Boston accent reminding me to eat my yellow and a green vegetables when I wasn’t eating anything at all ~ because you believe in me and knew I would come through that in time. Sending a repairman and having him send the bill to you.
The clank of a virtual cowbell while I walk slowly and with only one working side and the knowing that you would be waving that mother f***er just the same. Offering a key to your home as a safe house when I need it most even after years of not seeing me. A call to soothe my panicky mind in a Denny’s parking lot somewhere in Ohio. Making me wear vivid colors when black feels too bright. Gift cards several times a year for the children so that we can buy books and read together when I don't have money for extras. A sentimental text and the courage it takes to send it before it is really safe enough to know that I won’t mock you.
I won’t because I, too, am in the fabric of your pashmina.
It is impossible to capture the magnitude of my good fortune when it comes to my women friends, so I will simply say…
Today, I feel gratitude for discernment.
For the women represented in this blog - you fortify me and I love you.
For the women who were once here and are now gone, by your choosing or my invitation, I am grateful for what I learned from both your presence and absence. I am stronger for all of it.
For those women who have not yet learned how to heal, strengthen, and promote the women in your life…welcome. You are welcome indeed. But only if you come selflessly and with good intentions knowing that it will later be returned in ways more beautiful than you can imagine.