Running with 'the gang'

I have just had the kind of weekend that I thought I might never have again, and it was down to a group of women who opened their hearts to me and kept them open.

I'll try to keep the explanation brief....

More years ago than I care to remember, I met my best friend. It was simple stuff - not at all unlike that happy time when you find the kindred spirit who is to become your life partner. I walked into a new office, she was already there. A few conversations later we had discovered a mutual love of animals, joy, life, and Bloody Marys. She was searching for faith and eventually honoured me by making me her sponsor when she was Christened. She stood by me through my long years of living alone. We confided and shared and laughed our heads off. She introduced me to her large group of life-long friends, all from the same village in Hampshire where she was raised. I had moved around all my life, suddenly I had 'a gang'. Then, I finally fell in love and married a Soldier. I moved away. We kept in constant touch. She visited. I occasionally made the long trek back to her and was warmly welcomed by 'the gang'....and then she died. I had another close chum in the gang, three months later, aged 44, she had a massive stroke and died. I have documented this here before, so you know I was left reeling.

The Gang drew together to mourn, to arrange funerals, to cry. I was still geographically far away. I had not shared the life-long experiences that the rest of the gang had. I expected to be asked to weddings and funerals as in: 'we should ask Heli, Gailey and Ali would have wanted us to'. I not only grieved for them. I grieved for the loss of the sisterhood to which I had so happily and proudly belonged. I withdrew - but here's the thing, the invitations kept on coming. To parties, holidays, gatherings of all kinds. In those early days we were so shocked and stunned that we barely did more than cry. Sometimes our get togethers only served as a reminder of who was missing - but still the invitations kept coming. I proffered a tentative invitation of my own - never thinking for a minute that anyone would come - and every woman Jill of them made the long trek to be with me.

Every year for countless years we had all gathered together for a lunch before Christmas. This year, I took along a new close friend of my own. We sat at the same table where once Gailey and Ali had presided and you know what? we laughed until tears poured down our faces. My new friend was as warmly embraced into the gang as I had been all those years ago. It felt like we were honouring Gailey and Ali by sticking together, by continuing to belong to each other after a hand-grenade had exploded in our midst. We're wounded but we're walking - actually, this weekend, we were running - and wow, it felt good.

L to R: Me, Gailey, Ali.

'The Gang'........running!

No comments:

Post a Comment