I am blessed in many ways, but this weekend was reminded how abundantly I've been blessed in the friend department. Really. Truly. Blessed.
Two of my oldest and dearest friends loaded up their vehicles with their small people, snacks and movies and drove the 240 miles from their homes in southern Illinois to my home in western Illinois. Two women, five children, one SUV. If that's not love, I don't know what is.
I've known these two women, Jamie and Jill, since we were in kindergarten. And Lacey, too, but she wasn't able to make it on this trip. We rode the school bus together, played volleyball together (some better than others…ahem…I stunk), whispered about boys with each other and even played a piano duet or two together. We held each other through boyfriend heartache, consoling ourselves with chocolate ice cream and "Desperado" in the wee hours of the morning. And canned breadsticks, but that's another road trip altogether. We snuck out together (wrong, but true) and learned that as long as Jamie was with us, we could always stay out later. We checked out Jamie's new love interest across the high school gym. She married him. They have three kids now.
We stood up together at Jill's wedding (in August) only to find out they'd been married since February. True story. John says the best thing about the whole wedding was the look on the bridesmaids' faces. They have three kids now, too.
And as the years and miles increased, we just found ourselves on the phone more often. We cried together across the phone lines over miscarriages and missed dreams. When my friend, Rachel, died, they were among the first to call and cry with me. And they really didn't even know her. But they cared about me.
I read the book, The Girls from Ames, earlier this year, having met one of the girls from Ames as a fellow board member with the American Ag Editors Association. The book chronicles a 40-year friendship among eight women. If you haven't read it, you should. If you're a man, it's a fascinating look inside women's relationships and why they're good for the women in your life. If you're a woman, you'll be nodding your head along with every story in the book.
And somewhere in there, the author mentioned some research that found that women who have long-term friendships with other women tend to be happier, healthier and more content.
With that, I'd totally concur.