When I was a girl, my grandmother held a bridge club in her living room. I was almost never present for her meetings, but on those rare and exceptional times when I was allowed, I caught a glimpse into a compelling world. My grandmother and her friends all seemed perfect to me. They were those Jackie Kennedy types—the ones with a sense of style and an inherent grace. They sat around her octagonal table shuffling cards, and their laughter and knowing conversation seemed to convey all the secrets of the world. I thought they knew everything there was to know.
And, looking back, perhaps they did, even if they didn’t realize it at the time. At least they knew the important things. They grew old together. Their lives changed to almost unrecognizable images of their former selves. Children and grandchildren grew up and left. Husbands died. But there were always these women and their presence: always steady, hardly noticed, and yet completely vital. When the last of them died, it became a time for me to reflect and consider my own friendships.
I am the wife of a United States Marine. Our life is, at it’s very simplest, transient in nature. In my great grandmother’s time there were sewing and quilting circles. For my grandmother, it was her bridge club. For me, technology has brought my circle of women closer than they could be otherwise. You see, I am fortunate enough to help run a online community for wives of Marines.
Ten years ago I might have scoffed at the idea that my very closest friends could be found and cherished virtually, much less spill over to my “real” life. But here I am. Everywhere we move, I find I have an already established circle of women. I have attended births and helped these women, my friends, prepare for homecomings. I have cried when our husbands have been injured, when these women, my friends, have stood and watched their men collect war medals. I have listened when these women, my friends, have unloaded the family burdens of war and they have done the same for me. I have rejoiced with them that it was not worse, knowing in the back of my mind what bad really is. In the long lonely nights of war and deployments, I have sought solace with those who understand: these women, my friends. We might not always be physically present, but our support is as real and tangible as any sewing circle or bridge club.
So because of these friendships, past and present, I believe in the power of women to support and bear witness to each other’s lives. They have my undying gratitude. This, I believe.
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