The cards arrived soon after my mother came to our house.
“Happy Easter, my friend,” read one.
“Hope you are enjoying your visit with the grandkids,” said another.
All were signed love and included a “miss you” note. All were from my mother’s friends.
In addition to the cards, which my mother displayed on the kitchen counter, during the nearly three weeks my mom visited with my family last month, her friends called daily. My mother’s cell phone rang more than mine. They called to check up on her, to make plans to get together when she returned home, and to share their news.
Nearly every call ended with my mother telling her friend that she loved her.
Her girlfriends, as she calls them, have been part of my mother’s life for decades. Several of them go back to her high school days. Her oldest friend—a woman she had known since kindergarten—made the afghan I curl up under to watch cartoons with my kids. Another, my brother’s godmother, sends my children Christmas ornaments every year and gives the best hugs. Another has traveled with my mother to London, Paris, and Cairo. Another welcomes my mother to her home in Florida every year for sunshine and girl talk. Several of them read this blog and send me messages when they especially like a post (they are, as you would imagine, particularly inclined to like posts that mention my mom). She goes antiquing with one and to the casino with another. She shares a birthday with one of her friends, and they celebrate together every year.
These women make my mom laugh and tease her for her need to iron everything. They know what she was like when she was 16 and how she looked on her wedding day. They water her plants and take in her mail when she travels. They seek out her advice and counsel. They stand beside her in all of the ebbs and flows of life. They are part of a remarkable sisterhood that my mother has cherished over her 73 years.
Most recently, as my mother went through multiple rounds of chemotherapy, her friends escorted her back and forth to treatment, cooked and cleaned for her, and provided the emotional sustenance her body and soul needed so very much needed. Our family could not have made it through that time without them.
I am in awe of these connections. Most especially so when I think about my own friendships.
A few weeks ago, I caught up with a dear friend who lives nearly 2,000 miles away. I was in her hometown for business and we made plans to grab a drink and have dinner. I adore this woman—she was a bridesmaid in my wedding, in fact—and see in her so many qualities I hope to have: bravery, strong commitment to family, sweetness, and generosity of spirit. As we sat down to catch up, I realized we hadn’t spoken in months. Months.
She was surprised, too. “I guess I feel like I know what’s going on with you from Facebook,” she said, looking just as perplexed as I felt.
That’s when it hit me: the beauty of the friendships my mother cultivates is that they are based on real, meaningful connections. Long letters, phone calls, and making the time to be present with one another. No Facebook or text message to share the latest. They talk—and they listen.
And, so I listened that night to my dear friend. As we hugged good-bye at her car, we both started crying. From joy, I know. From the knowingness that some friendships continue on unbroken no matter how many months have gone by. From the gratitude of the connection and of the love.
And I’ve spent a lot of time since then realizing how little time in my life is dedicated to my friendships. They are, by far, what suffers in my moving-too-fast world. Which is ironic considering how much I like these people! When I like something I want more it, not less. But kids, marriage, career, home—the demands on my time and theirs makes an interface like Facebook helpful in staying in touch. But, as I have learned, it’s not a replacement for that time together and it’s not what sustains me.
I watch my young daughter play with her friends, and I wonder how she’ll make her connections. Which friends will be by her side through life’s ups and downs? What kind of a friend will she be? I hope she will be a friend like my mother: true and deep and real.
I wrote this post as part of Team J+A’s Feel Something More Blog Tour. Next up in the tour is Adriana talking about making time for sleep. Learn about the other bloggers in this tour here.