Then, amazingly, they ruled out MS and determined that Mom had "funky lesions" which, incidentally, went away completely. Six years later, she's in better health than she has been in years. Her brain is clear. I force myself to remember this miracle when we're bickering about something non substantial.
I always remember this story: Mom was in the hospital, dizzy, uncertain, miserable. Her best friend, Maril, came in to visit. She hugged my mother, who was pretty out of it, and then gently rubbed her feet with sweet-smelling lotion. She stayed there until my mother fell asleep.
That is the power of a life-long friend.
Mom and Maril have known each other since middle school. Mom was there the exact moment when Maril learned that her father had died in a tubing accident. Maril is my godmother; my mother is Maril's older daughter's godmother. My mother always holds Maril's hand when they approach an escalator, because Maril is afraid. Maril goes camping with my mother, even though she hates nature, and douses all of Rocky Mountain National Park with her numerous cans of Lysol.
Maril will be with my mother, one way or another, for the rest of her life.
This is the legacy she has given me. Friends matter.
I've written about all sorts of silly, letting-our-hair-down behaviors about my reunion weekend here and here. But, we didn't come together from Washington, Oregon, Arizona, Georgia, Maryland, California and Texas just to have a few drinks. We came together out of love. These girls are my tribe.
Although we certainly did a lot of reminiscing, we did not live entirely in our memories. We picked up where we left off. Ten years away was insubstantial, a minor pause. Like fine wines, we've become more interesting over time. Our life experiences bring more to the table, and the insecurities or fears of our youth no longer hold us back.
As I walked around the familiar haunts of my college years, I thought about all the wasted energy, all the angst about men, life, feeeeeeeeeelings. I'm so relieved to have that behind me. And, I'm so grateful that I had my tribe to help me through those difficult days.
I know that we may not talk for days, weeks, months at a time. That changes nothing. If something happened tomorrow, I know that my tribe would be there, like Maril at my mother's bedside.
I also know that my tribe has grown. I have lifelong friends from teaching in Arizona, and now here in Maryland. Every woman in my life makes me better, stronger, more grateful and humble.
I am so blessed and lucky to have my tribe. When I hugged them goodbye, I blinked back the tears and said, with certainty, "I'll see you soon."