Have you heard the song by Little Big Town? It's about a woman who is so obsessed with a man, she can't stop thinking about the woman the man is obsessed with. Got it?
'Maybe then you'd want me just as much' confirms that this isn't about a girl-girl relationship, but more of a stalking, this girl needs to get a hobby situation.
But here, I want to talk about 'Girl Love'.
The kind of love that outlasts men and mortgages and just never, ever goes away. With so many marriages that never seem to actually weather the storm of '...from this day forward, for better or worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, till death do you part,' I have come to understand that 'girl love' does.
Think about this. Who do you call when you are at your worst, down to your last dime, feeling like a long-tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs? You call your very best, most long-loved girlfriend.
She listens, understands, reminds you that it will all be better one day, and agrees that the bad guy in the story is indeed a certified ass-hat. She's there for you.
No. Matter. What.
And life goes on. We marry, we have children, we lose people we love, the dog dies, we gain weight, the kids grow up and out....but that girlfriend. She's there to help you weather the storm, no matter the circumstances.
Many moons ago, when my Grandmama died, one of my girlfriends got to Spring Hill Funeral home before me, and held my Grandmama's hand and had a talk with her.
Did you read that?
She held my Grandmama's cold hand and had a talk with her.
Even I didn't hold Grandmama's hand. (I do recall staring at Grandmama's hands and thinking they looked like wax. I've always been fascinated with funeral hands and just this very year, bid adieu to a gentleman whose hands looked completely alive and normal. It was actually quite disturbing, like maybe he was just in a coma. I wanted to poke him...)
Another girlfriend stood by me when many 'friends' stopped speaking to me after my divorce. She said 'Of course I'm still here. Why would I leave? I was here before your husband and I'll be here for the rest of your life.' That....is a friend. The others, they embraced judgment. I learned from that.
And as my mama-heart cried recently, I tearfully asked one friend, who had patiently listened, how was it she was so sympathetic.
Without hesitating she said,"Because I love you."
God has blessed me with several very close, very dear girlfriends. Some have stood with me for 19, 28, 45 and even 55 years. I count myself blessed indeed.
Brenda and Dana. Still by each other's side 52 years later.
Recently, I've been pondering the loss of intimacy in our culture and how no one seems to have long phone conversations deep into the night or write pages-thick letters anymore. Our most vulnerable and intimate expressions of love get saved up for a funeral or, quite possibly, a bedside talk in hospice. The art of the letter has been lost to a bright, digital screen and a font called Courier.
This past weekend, as I watched another birthday creep closer on the calendar, I received a legal-size envelope in the mail. It was from my dear girlfriend, Mary Ruth. We became fast friends at the age of ten, and not a day goes by without some form of communication.
Mary Ruth and Dana, wearing hand-sewn dresses at 7th grade graduation, spring 1973.
She often sends me articles about aging parents and other informative medical bits of advice. I stuck the envelope in my cookbook stand, next to the Smoky Pumpkin Soup recipe, to read at a later time.
Friday night, Dirk and I were heading out to meet friends for dinner and I grabbed the envelope. I looked forward to reading whatever she was wanting to share. (Once, she advised me to avoid giving french fries to my dogs because a frenzy ensues and they might mistake my finger for a fry. Her own pooch did just such a thing and bit her finger clear off. CLEAR OFF. Well, it dangled, but it was bitten off just the same.)
I put on my reading glasses and tore open the seal, but what I pulled out wasn't the latest findings from a medical journal.
I held in my hands a three page letter, single spaced that started at the top of page one and ended halfway down page three.
"What on earth?" I said out loud.
As I began to read, my eyes welled up and my nose began to burn, and my heart did a flip in my chest.
This letter wasn't about aging, or dogs, or the best way to preserve ten pounds of muscadine grapes your Daddy keeps dropping off on the front porch....
It was a love letter.
A deep breath and a gush of every single feeling of love she had felt for me over the past forty-five years. Girlfriend Love.
"Not a day goes by that I don't think of you and smile. No night goes by that you don't pass through my mind. To say I value our friendship sounds too petty. Your heart and soul are part of me. Without you, I would not have the two children I do have..."
(Yes, I introduced both of my closest friends to their husbands on blind dates so if I ever want to set you up, be prepared to meet your spouse.)
I read the letter out loud and Dirk and I both cried as we drove towards Frank's at the Old Mill.
Who puts their heart out there and stands right smack dab in front of you all vulnerable and raw like that, writing words for God and everybody to see? These weren't sentiments spoken that I could forget, or a gift that ends up stuck on a closet shelf. These weren't take-back words or left up for a rephrase words, "What did you say?", "Um,actually let me rephrase that.."
This was heart talk in permanent black ink that made an intentional mark on the paper that would stand and say the same thing forever and ever and ever.
I got to hear her heart and it wasn't even my funeral. This letter, this gift, wow..what a gift!...made me feel more loved, more valued, and was better than any wrapped present, even that box of Boll & Branch organic cotton sheets I had waiting back at the house.
She wrote a letter. A simple letter. But it was my love language and it will stand the test of time and remind me, on a day when I might be feeling sick, poor or worse off, that I am well loved.
So I write this letter to you, my friend reading this blog, and ask - When was the last time you put pen to paper to give away your heart?
Each sheet breathes life into the lost art of the letter. Each word is a pulse from your heart. And a willingness to give what can't be bought or taken.
Write that letter.
Share and be shared.
It doesn't cost a dime but it is worth a king's ransom.