Can I get a witness?
At the first, last Tuesday night in Columbia, SC, I was among the “old” friends gathered to celebrate Michelle’s 5th anniversary of breast cancer survivorship. I’ve known Michelle since 1977. There were jokes about wishing her a long and happy life with NED (No Evidence of Disease) by her side.
At the second, last Saturday night in Hollywood, FL, I was among the “new” friends celebrating Karen’s 50th birthday–I’ve only known Karen since 2006. Karen introduced me to a table of friends she’s known since 7th grade, 10th grade, and so on. She wished she could spread their visits over the year instead of having them all in one concentrated night.
Both Michelle and Karen were overwhelmed by the effort made by their friends and families to throw them great parties, and by everyone’s wishes for their continued health and happiness. Coincidentally, each woman received a dramatic gift along with many other tokens.
Michelle received a stunning pottery vase created years ago by her late mother. Images of Michelle’s mother’s beautiful face, cast in plaster, circle the vase.
Karen received a tall totem pole, wheeled in by two men with a hand truck, carved from a Sabal palm. The pole will decorate Karen’s lovingly tended tropical back yard.
The faces carved into the totem reminded me of the faces of Michelle’s vase–faces that symbolize the faces of family and friends who watch over us, giving our lives meaning.
At both parties I saw the place of friends in my life and my place in their lives. At the Tuesday night party, I experienced a flood of memories and emotions of my own, events I thought I had forgotten. At the Saturday night party, I met women who had traveled to Florida as I had traveled to South Carolina to express to our friends that they are important parts of our lives. Through these experiences, I saw my own life and the lives of my friends just a little bit differently than I had even a week ago.
Friends, long-term women friends in particular, bear witness to our lives, and by doing so, add meaning. As a memoir writer, I can get caught up in my own memories, forgetting that friends’ memories and mine are intertwined and illuminate one another.
Are there friends and memories that need a visit from you?