I was running out the door last night to pick up Georgia from practice when I saw the package in our mailbox on the porch. It had Richard’s distinctive handwriting and I knew what was inside. He was sending me something for my birthday on behalf of Marcia, my dear friend who died three years ago this spring. I am blessed that she loved me like a daughter.
The letter ends with, “This remembrance of hers is sent with much love – Richard.” The cotton in the box and the black velvet pouch smell like her. I didn’t know that I remembered how she smelled, but there it is, distinctively Marcia. I had seen the silver chain of dime-sized hammered metal links around her neck many times, usually with a casual sweater. Marcia was sophisticated and stylish but this necklace was a rare piece of her jewelry that could fit into my simple, athletic, thrown-together approach to fashion. She would have picked it out for me.
Richard got it right.
In my thoughts and heart, Marcia accompanied me in the car as I made my way to the gym. We both agreed that middle-age is the time when your friendships with women move to another level of meaning that is unimaginable when you are younger.
If I could only pick one word to characterize my last decade it would be WOMEN.
The family of women I have built during my forties has been my most treasured achievement outside of my life with the kids and Matthew. When I was younger I was somewhat of an outsider, most often by choice. I didn’t really understand other women, particularly when they moved in groups. I preferred men or to be by myself. It was easier that way.
A shift occurred in my late thirties. It began in playgrounds and the hallways of preschools, over cups of coffee and during long runs on hilly wooded trails, on desperate calls and through inside jokes. By my forties I found myself surrounded by women I loved.
They hug me when I’m undeserving, don’t flinch when I’m imperfect, lead the way, and shine the light on my strengths.
Together we belly-laugh, shake our fist at the sky and cry, get sick and recover, raise families, bury parents, volunteer, cook, downward dog, travel, play, console and celebrate.
They are the people I design escape plans with and then go back home.
They get me through all the bruises and triumphs of kids, the realities of marriage, and the painfully joyous process of growing up. I know with a devotional certainty that I’m a better person for letting their love and courage lift me to a place that is always safe and accepting.
To the women in my life, you know who you are, thank you for seeing me through to fifty. Our lives are joined together like the silver links of Marcia’s necklace.
I love you.