The text went like this:
Time passes. Life happens. Distance separates. Children grow up. Jobs come and go. Love waxes and wanes. Men don't call when they say they will. Hearts break. Marriages collapse. Parents die. Colleagues forget favors. Careers end.
Girlfriends are there, no matter how much time and how many miles are between you. A girlfriend is never farther away than needing her can reach.
When you have to walk that lonesome valley and you have to walk it by yourself, your girlfriends will be on the valley's rim, cheering you on, praying for you, pulling for you, intervening on your behalf, and waiting with open arms at the valley's end. Sometimes, they will even break the rules and walk beside you. Or come in and carry you out.
When we began this adventure called womanhood, we had no idea of the incredible joys or sorrows that lay ahead. Nor did we know how much we would need each other. Every day, we need each other still.
And I was struck by the truth in that. I had always enjoyed having girlfriends, but had relegated them to the back burner, consumed with my husband and children, career and home. Surely *those* are the important commitments in your life? Marriage is supposed to be the rock you build your life on, your island, your home, the most important relationship you have. Until it isn't.
Now I'm sure most of you reading this have wonderful supportive marriages and will be happy for many, many years. But I didn't. And I didn't realize how important my girlfriends were (including my mother and sister) until it all unravelled. Some were my relatives and ex-sisters-in-law; some were friends in town, whom I see often; some were friends from places I used to live; and some were online friends, whom I've met once, or not at all. They were the ones who listened, and cried with me, and encouraged me, and formulated outlandish revenge scenarios to make me laugh -- they sent cards, they phoned, they e-mailed and posted, they came to visit and brought wine, they circled the wagons because one of their own was down. And there's no way to measure the worth of that.
Some of them are probably reading this now, and I want to tell them again how much it meant to me and still means even now, when life is good again. And I won't lose the lesson in all of this. Friends matter. Girlfriends are pearls beyond price. I won't forget that.
I've been thinking about all this because tonight is girls' night at my place. It kind of evolved organically. A friend is arriving from out of town today to spend Christmas at my place. She's just getting out of a bad marriage. Another couple of friends are at loose ends and needing some distraction, and so might be joining us. The beer is cold; there's a bottle of red wine on the counter; a fire is laid in the fireplace, waiting to be lit; a giant pot roast is in the slow cooker; and there's tons of extra bedding if a sleepover ensues. We have cards and movies, and plenty to talk about. We have each other. Sounds like the perfect evening to me.