This I believe, I believe in the strength and power of female relationships. Lately,
I find myself repeatedly reflecting on the relationships with other women in my life. I found myself thinking about those women as my sisters and I traveled to calling hours last night. We went to support our sister-in-law, Pam, and our brother, David as they helped Pam’s father grieve the loss of his second wife. My two sisters and I were not excited to take the 35 minute drive in ice cold weather, yet we wanted to be there; we were drawn there.
I showered and then dressed in gray wool trousers and a black sweater. I did my hair, put on make-up, and sprayed perfume. I felt ready to help. I knew my sisters would be dressed in similar clothes also having freshly applied make-up and perfume and I felt comfort in that. There is no sense in my feeling that the act of dressing, donning make-up, and spritzing perfume prepares me and my sisters, my friends, my mother’s friends, my aunts, and cousins to form a circle of support. Yet as I write this, I am crying.
Perhaps my feelings relate to my early memories of the smell of my mother’s perfume when she came into my room after being out for the evening to check on me as I feigned sleep. I remember her dressed from an occasion touching my forehead assuring me that I was loved and protected. I remember my aunt Alice bringing a sleepy two year old me home from a wedding and laying me in my parents’ bed for a nap. My aunt, my mom and other women were there countless times throughout my childhood and adulthood. They were always there: dressed, with make up, and smelling of freshly applied perfume.
Today, I think of all of the weddings, funerals, baby showers, baptisms, and birthdays my sisters and friends attend and I think of our rituals of dressing, applying make-up, and perfume and it gives me strength and comfort knowing we are doing this because we love and are there for one another in times of joy and in times of sorrow. It is not the words that are spoken it is the consistency of presence: of simply being there.
So, I believe in the strength and power of female relationships. I believe that the women in my life have a way of grounding me and forcing me to stand when I want to simply lie down. I was depressed after the birth of my first child. I was glazed, teary, hopeless and unpleasant. Yet, they were there. These women in my life came, they cleaned, they held the baby, they cooked, they told me to shower and dress and I did. They came back on the next day and the next until I showered, dressed and stood on my own. They were dressed to help, freshly showered, and perfumed and they were there.
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