So I was recently writing about having rediscovered my Soulmate right at home in my own husband of 33 years and kept thinking, “but there is something more I want to tell you…and it is important!”
Not only have I been fortunate enough to establish a new love story with my mate, I have also been lucky enough to find the joy and life enriching loves of my life in the special relationships I have with my girl friends!
Growing up I often discounted or neglected those relationships. I do not know why. It hurts when I think of the times I let a friend down in favor of some other life happening. Often, I let the very dearest ones go, just because it seemed too hard to rebuild their trust in me. Or I was embarrassed I had failed them in a crisis. Or I had let so much time go by I was sure they had replaced and forgotten me.
As I left my 40’s and entered my 50’s I really felt the loss. I had a few good girls in my life, but they were neglected. It started to dawn on me that this was something I would have to change if I was going to have a happy middle age. So I made a wish. I wished for friends and they came true! Through a lovely unfolding of the Universe I was able to meet and bond with some amazing women. I won’t mention names if that is okay, but they will know themselves here.
We laugh about it now, but the NIA sisterhood was the first answer to that special request to the Universe. We met through that lovely dance form, NIA, and found ourselves kind of tuned in to each other from there. After the weekly dance class we eat together and laugh and yak until wherever we go is ready to close up for the night. We try to take an annual retreat together and I count some of my best adult memories from those events. The bond has grown beyond the circle of our class. My ‘fellow token tot” (what would I do without you?) has been by my side through thick and thin, carrying me along in her creative joyful wake, as do my “still mountain,” my teacher, our healer, my social media guru and guide, that generous-grown-up-kid-at-heart, GG the Go-Girl, all of the ones that gather! My tribe!
I met another wonderful friend the year I turned 50 and joined the pool as a gift to myself for my 5th decade. I borrowed her extra pool noodle and we sat together reading for a while. Weekend after weekend we met there and found more in common. Wine, books, our hopes for our grown children… When pool season ended we created a new way to spend leisure time together. We meet now by the river in the evening one day a week to catch up over wine and tasties.
A long time friend, who started as a friend of my mother, is still with me in spite of my lapses! Twice she has come to help me move mom, when nobody else did! And many times she has come just to cheer me on and has welcomed me to share in her family events like a sister.
My Little Leo, (is it 20 years now?), honored me by letting me perform her wedding, (my first legal one!) and then honored me again, by asking me to perform the wedding of her son! Hers is a soul mate story I will take time to tell in full one day. I was so glad to be able to share in it!
My “Sam” is rebuilding her own life, but we still meet sometimes and our silly selves have a particular voice we use with each other, used nowhere else as far as I know, and when we speak it we are right back to our 20’s and 30’s when our friendship first started.
I notice that I write about the things we “do” in the present tense. It has been four years since I could regularly attend NIA class or yoga and I only see my pool friend every month or so when I get home for a short few days. Taking care of Mom consumes most of my time and so much of my energy that I am not able to connect with any of these people in the ways I want to. But the friendships feel current because they are strong enough to withstand the distance between us.
Neighbor friends, work friends, church friends, cousins, my “sister-cousin”, my sweetest cousin-in-law, the folks that help me with mom! Each one is a great gift. I am blessed beyond belief! And I am trying to restore the bonds with the special ones that I allowed to slip away. In just the last few months, I have been in touch with my very best childhood friend, a girl I have missed all my adult life. I found her, and her laugh has never changed! I find that amazing. My midnight-oil friend from college is still in my heart. We only see each other on Facebook these days, but I know that when we do meet again it will be like always, no time has passed in our friendship.
So when I think of the lessons of love I cannot leave these ones out! Thank you God, for the gift of women friends! Thank you for the silver and gold ones. Thank You for the friends I have not met yet. Thank you for the lessons learned from all these, and for the love in my life that they have blessed me with. Thank you most especially for opening me to receive these gifts and for teaching me to love them back with all my heart.
I hope that if you are reading here and got this far that you look around your heart and see the faces of friends as I do. If you don’t or if you want more, go after them! There is always room for more love in your life! They are out there waiting for you to look for them! Go!
Lisa Chadwick Tjaarda is a graduate of the University of South Carolina and worked most of her life in Health Care Reimbursement. Caregiving has become a full-time occupation and she now considers it her Master’s program in the University of Life on Earth. A lifelong writer, Blogging started as a therapeutic outlet but is becoming a way of reaching out to others who have stumbled into this journey. “Sharing thoughts about how growing older could be less about older and more about growing is becoming a passion for me”. Please follow and share her posts at: http://livingitupward.blogspot.com/ and on her Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/livingitupward/ (Living Live)