I just returned from a one-week whirlwind visit with several dear friends. The original timing of my vacation (aside from getting away from my wet basement) was arranged to coincide with the birthdays of two of these aforementioned dear friends who just happen to have been born one day apart. A gathering of the 'clan' was set into motion and a flurry of excited e-mails flew back and forth amongst this group of friends who met [--] years ago in university. We try to all get together at least once a year and, so far, I think we've done pretty well.
We've muddled through life's adventures, lending a shoulder or a hand whenever needed. We've shared a lot of tears but even more laughter. We've been to each others' weddings (but under some unspoken pact, never as bridesmaids - must be the dresses!). Helped each other move (thank god those days are over!) and consoled each other over broken hearts (remember 'I hate men parties'?). We're as different as any group of women could be but we argue and love without question. The bond is taken for granted but not the gratitude or the responsibility it holds.
So it seemed that fate brought us all together again this time, not just for birthday festivities as planned but for other unexpected life-changing events. One of our group received thrilling news of admission to a prestigious graduate program at an Ivy League university. We shared cheers and tears of joy and a bottle of champagne was ordered from the bar! Another of our group experienced the heavy-hearted loss of an elderly relative after a lengthy illness. We shared hugs and consolation and glasses were raised in honour of a passing soul.
And so life goes. Our weekend together was in many ways typical of our long-standing friendships - the celebrations, the losses, many a glass of wine, mugging for the camera, the comfortable mundane catching up on each others' lives late into the night, and the goodbye hugs before returning to our day-to-day adventures... each taking with us the strength of our friendship, topped up for another year.