My mind is occupied with things that aren’t so beautiful. Things like cancer. Things like my second close friend in six months undergoing the knife to remove a piece of her that I imagine, as we all have, she’s grown accustomed to looking down at from time to time. Certainly she’s been painfully aware of its presence recently, if she didn't pay it much mind before.
Her husband sits in a waiting room with his father and sister, not seeing the phone before him, hearing perhaps a ticking clock nearby, snippets of hushed whispers.
Her children sit in their respective classrooms, not hearing their teachers. Wondering, worrying, and not quite understanding what their mother is going through, or perhaps even where she is.
I sit looking at this glowing white page, with words coming and then escaping me; too fleeting to capture most of them. And I wait. I’m not there. I feel helpless. The snow blows outside my window. And I wait.
I was still living in California when my first close friend underwent the same surgery, double, that my friend today must endure; must survive; must press on through for all the days that follow. I can’t fathom what might be beautiful about those days in between—only perhaps the other side. After the scars begin to fade, and the hair grows, and the beauty and blessing of mothering lives once again in her children’s classrooms, reading and making crafts, and checking papers, instead of mired in each moments’ survival.
My job will be to find ways to help make some of those days beautiful for my friend and her family, even as I continue to be the mom, the wife, the writer and businesswoman I’ve come to expect myself to be.
Now that I’m back home where I belong, the beauty of my dear friends, all of us different ages, but with children the same age; changed on the surface and deep inside though we have in two short years, is that we’re still here. Even if we can’t comprehend the choices, or fully appreciate the experience without having had it ourselves, we’re still here and we’re still friends. We still have each other's backs, and we still hold one another's families in our hearts and in our care when one of us is down.
My friends, my posse, still forgive clumsily chosen words; we still vote for and cheer one another on, hold each other up and help each other succeed. We still give the benefit of doubt in most cases, and accept apologies when offered. We hope for only the best in life for our friends, and we’re there to help them survive, overcome and learn from the all too common snag, or plod through a monumentally difficult time.
And through two years in California I made new and equally beautiful friends that now span the country, and who will remain so forever. And through this process of releasing my inner author and sharing my soul with *the world*, I’ve made a myriad more friends across tundra and oceans.
Whether an instant of soaring brilliance, or in the worst of life’s moments—even if it’s spent unproductively, staring at a blank page, and praying like I’ve never prayed before, for mercy, for deft hands, for beauty and grace, and for another day to hug my friend, gently, or just to be there if she can’t stand my touch, even if it’s not a particularly beautiful day—there is no place I would rather be than among these beautiful women who became my friends through a MOMS Club playgroup. We’ve seen children born and children married, and we’ve watched our brood of fifteen kids grow through everything in between.
This week reminds me what is beautiful about being a woman that has nothing to do with weight or height or skin or hair or breasts; and none of it is more striking than the beauty of women friends.
[And what a difference 48 hours makes. Update: my friend came through her surgery bravely and valiantly, and so did her family, and so did I. Amazingly, she came home the next day. She is where she belongs, recovering with her family and friends surrounding her. And my first friend gave us all hope when she received news recently, as her hair begins to grow back, that her doctor considers her in remission. On to the next step: Fight like a Girl, my beautiful friends! Fight like a Girl!]
Thank you to August McLaughlin for inviting me to participate in her second annual Beauty of a Woman Blog Fest. Please check out what are sure to be more fantastic posts over on August's page, where she'll be linking up a bunch of us to celebrate the beauty of women tomorrow, February 22, 2013.