I’ve been having lunch with the same three women nearly every week for the past 12-15 years, depending on which of us you ask. We have all known each other for longer than that, and our lunches began innocuously enough – four friends from the same community getting together to chat and share some gossip. None of us imagined that our weekly lunches would become a treasured and important part of our lives, an appointment we rarely miss and always look forward to, saving good and not-so-good news to share over a bowl of pho or a barbecue chicken salad, depending on our mood. Sometimes, we even have fries.
During the years we’ve been lunching together, we have gone through many life-changing and momentous events, from the joys of Bar and Bat Mitzvahs to the grief of the death of three of our fathers. We have bemoaned middle school drama, high school cliques, college applications, boyfriends, girlfriends, husbands, children, our mothers, our siblings, the cost of just about everything, and the “how did we get here” angst of turning 40, 50 and more, always celebrating our birthdays together. We have crowed about our accomplishments, strategized career changes, critiqued and offered advise on parenting. We have argued about politics, our opinions ranging from practically right wing to nearly bleeding heart liberal, agreeing to disagree every time, knowing that nothing we can say or do will change each other’s minds. We have consoled each other through 9/11, celebrated holidays, kept each other going when we couldn’t go anymore, and shared countless evenings with our husbands, who look upon us with bemusement and, I think, a touch of envy. There have been times when we have driven one another crazy, grown angry and frustrated, avoided each other and skipped out on a lunch or two just to gain some distance – but we have always come back together, and we have vowed that we always will. We are four women each so vastly different, so outspoken and so clearly unique from one another. Best of all, we have come to accept each other’s personality quirks, for better or worse, and learned to laugh at our own at the same time.
And now, one of us is the mother of the bride, and we went dress shopping.
Of course we all knew this day was coming, when one of our children would get married…and I do mean “our” children, because we have come to know each of them so well, whether in person or by what we’ve shared with each other. Shopping for the mother of the bride dress was so much fun, watching one of us do what we can only assume someday each of us will do, be the M.O.B, as we’ve begun to call her. There was an overwhelming sense of time passing, one of our little kids getting ready to walk down the aisle, one of us inevitably becoming a grandmother soon enough – I felt such emotion and gratitude that these women have been part of my week, nearly every week, for too many years to even correctly count.
Our lives keep unfolding in front of us, with so much to look forward to, more moments to celebrate or sadness to comprehend. But behind us, helping to buoy us along the uncertain waters of the future are hundreds of hours of talking, sharing our joys and heartbreaks, knowing that, no matter how things may go, we will have lunch again, next week – and maybe even with a side of fries.