Girlfriends get us through tough times, celebrate our victories and always got our back.
In our senior year at Illinois State University, I shared a townhouse off campus with five friends. We called ourselves family.
Ever loyal fans, they supported me my final season of college basketball that began badly with a back injury. Frustrated by the setback, I limped in walking crooked. They welcomed me home by tilting the wall pictures sideways too.
When my younger sister needed a place to stay, they squeezed her in. I forfeited my spot in our triple, moved to the basement, slept on a mat on the floor and stored clothes in cardboard boxes. In the dungeon, I never heard my bunkmates’ early alarm clock with the darn dozer button. It never felt like a sacrifice until the basement flooded.
Only one housemate was my biological sibling, but we called each other sisters, except for the most responsible one in the group, who we nicknamed mom.
“The family” was always there for me.
Every happy occasion we played our theme song, “We are Family,” and danced our fool heads off.
They hugged me goodbye at the airport, when I chased my dream to play pro ball in Paris. After my career ending car accident in France, they flew abroad to urge me to keep fighting. They held my hand when I lost my first baby in an harrowing miscarriage at an isolated cabin in the woods. When our children were still young enough to drag around, we gathered for “family reunions” on my stateside visits.
When my dad died, they flew in from all over to attend his memorial service. The only one who could not be there sent her husband as a stand in.
Forty-five years after college graduation, during a bitter cold January, they drove six hours to Minneapolis to see me before I flew back home to Switzerland.
My husband, bless his little cotton socks, catered to us. Like a 5 star French chef, he served fine wine, "boeuf bourguignon", and "mousse au chocolat". Over champagne, we toasted to ISU, to friendship, to resiliency. We survived thyroid cancer, breast cancer, brain surgery, a car wreck and other calamities.
None of us followed the traditional script. We navigated divorce, death of a spouse, childbirth, adoption, step-children, cross cultural marriage and grandchildren.
We shared highlights and hardships, disappointments and disasters, triumphs and tragedies.
We attained lofty goals becoming a pro athlete, a physical therapist, teachers, coaches, and administrators. We raised families, nurtured aging parents, dedicated our careers to helping others.
We treasured memories of that special time as college students when we starred in our own life stories savoring lazy weekends, crazy keggers and Florida spring break.
Never again would we be so carefree or live under the same roof, but we knew we could count on each other forevermore. Always. Til death do us part.
Thankfully, we are all still here.
“We are Family. I got all my sisters with me!”