Several years ago Matt called one of our closest friends, C, on April Fool’s Day. In a panicked voice he told her that I was at work in Providence, he was in New York, and Grace had fallen at school and broken a bone. He hated to ask, but could she go to the hospital? I swear she had pulled out of her driveway (and this woman drives fast, believe me) before he could tell her it was an April Fool’s joke.
I’ve never forgotten that. Nor have I forgotten the afternoon I drove by E’s house on a random afternoon and rang her doorbell. She came down and I didn’t say anything but just hugged her and started to cry. I was just having a really terrible day and wanted to see someone I loved, and she didn’t ask for any clarification before she just hugged me back.
I thought of those episodes with C and E this weekend, which we have traditionally spent together. I am richly blessed in many, many ways but perhaps first on that list is my extraordinary friends. For example, I have my dearly beloved friends from college. C and E are among the women I had my babies with, which is a shared experience powerful enough to forge lifetime bonds. My mother had friends like this, and they were so integral to my childhood that I published an essay once whose first line was “I grew up with four mothers.”
And now, I look at C and E and I think, bewildered, joyful, incredulous: these are those women for Grace and Whit.
Our lives are twisted together in ways I hope will never come undone. It’s impossible to fully articulate how much I adore these women and, also, how much I need them in my life. They were standing next to me when my life as a mother began; they both visited Grace the day she was born, for example, and we had our first children within nine months and our second within three. .
How do I love you, C and E? Let me count the ways.
I love you some enormous amount that is derived by a complicated equation. The inputs to the equation include eight children, an infinite number of trips to Costco, kombucha, two hundred Halloween decorations, 14 personalized red sweatbands, annual birthday celebrations big and small, Southsides, a sled track in New Hampshire, a sturdy three-legged stool, christenings, craft fairs, a cabin in the White Mountains with no electricity but 12 bunkbeds in a 10×14 foot room, olde tyme photographs of eight children in costume, margaritas in Utah, countless SomeE cards, snake-print (adult) and orange (child) pants, spiked hot chocolate at 10am, cardboard robots, toasts, and tears.
The equation is complicated, but the result is simple: overwhelming gratitude.
Everyday life is a celebration with you two.
You have stood by me during difficult days and rejoiced with me during happy ones. You love my children dearly, just as I love yours. Our husbands are close friends. I think we all know we hit the jackpot. We are godparents and fairy godparents to each others’ children. I feel sad all the time that I don’t see you as often as I like, and aware of how certain choices mean I’m not in the day-to-day flow of your lives. I hate that fact. But it doesn’t change that you are those rare friends who are truly family, and I am more grateful than I can express. I hope to spend the rest of my life as the third leg of your stool.
Thank you, thank you, thank you.
Parts of this post were originally written in 2010. I love these pictures from several years ago, because their blur seems to represent the effervescence of our time together, the constant laughter and motion that marks how the two of you inhabit my life.
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