By Marcia Mangum Cronin
I just returned from an informal luncheon with a group of half a dozen women friends. We mostly live in the same neighborhood and go to the same church, and we started getting together sporadically for lunch several years ago. There's no specific schedule, format or agenda. Whenever one of us feels like it, we invite the rest by e-mail. The meals are potluck, with the host providing a main dish and others bringing whatever they want. Lunch today was to honor me and another woman because we have birthdays this month. (We didn't have to bring anything—just show up and enjoy!)
When I returned to my desk after a long lunch break, several thoughts seemed worth reflecting on:
First, a colleague to whom I'd mentioned the lunch commented, "It's always fun to celebrate with the ladies." She hit the nail on the head. Lately, I've had too much work, too many health problems and too much stress. But after lunch with my girlfriends, I was relaxed and rejuvenated.
Second, no matter how many demands we have on our plates, it's important to make time for friends. The woman who threw the luncheon in my honor is under far more stress than I am. Primarily, she's been caring for a very sick husband for three years. Add to that a trip to the doctor yesterday, a fall down the stairs this morning and grandchildren to care for, and I don't know how she finds time to do anything for herself, much less for anyone else. And, yet, I understand that it was important for her to do this today. Maybe it provided some sense of normalcy and pleasure in her life, at least for a few hours. I remember when my children were little, and I had virtually no time to call my own, one of my greatest pleasures was attending and occasionally hosting book club—time to get together with my girlfriends and talk, eat, drink, and relax … oh, and sometimes discuss a book. Book club was my lifeline to sanity.
And, finally, lunch reminded me how we all have our problems—and our blessings. All of the women I ate with were a little older than I am, and each has her own set of issues. But, we're also all lucky: we have friends with whom to share our highs and our lows. We support each other, sometimes with physical assistance like sharing food, weeding the yard, providing transportation, recommending a doctor or an electrician or caring for a pet. Sometimes by just helping to forget.
The soups and fruits and veggies and breads and desserts that we shared were delicious. But the most delicious part was the warmth of friendship.