How lucky are we to have people we can call friends? Place “girl” in front of that word and the entire concept changes, for in our circle of “people we can turn to,” girlfriends hold special meaning in this crazy world we call life. And the best part is – we get to choose them! No one is born a girlfriend. There is no pre-set description of who gets to be one, and there is no guarantee one will stay. In fact, it’s better than all of that: you get to earn it.
A girlfriend is someone I hold so dear that when I call upon her, I know all will be well. She is the person you can trust and turn to regardless of your successes, failures, wealth, or woes. She calls you when she’s hurting, but first asks, “How are you?” She shows up at your place of work because she heard you were having a rough day. She never guilts you into anything – even when you have to cancel on her because family comes first. She meets you for lunch and automatically orders champagne for you, even in the middle of a workday.
Even if you have a partner, spouse, or roommate by your side, there are life moments when it’s the girlfriend’s ear or shoulder you prefer when you feel as if you’re losing your way. As years race by, the more everyone wants to spend time with family and the less time you have for friends – especially as illness or old age takes our parents, grandparents, and loved ones away. So, with the remaining time we have left, we rely on those special ladies that have our back no matter what.
I cherish those friends who evolve with time and age right along with us. It may be the friend from your old neighborhood or the one who stood by you during high school, college, and beyond. You get to draw on memories so personal that she remembers things you’ve long forgotten. You can be yourself, laugh like a child, or even act like one. Maybe that’s why we love those friendships so much – we share the fountain of youth, even as we discuss our most recent doctor appointments. We cheer each other on to keep doing the things we love, regardless of those minor ailments!
The most impactful girlfriends change your life. I have one who came into my life and changed the course of my career. She saw something in me that convinced me I could write for a living. By way of opportunity and circumstance, we became professional powerhouses, focused and aligned in our work ethic. During some of the most daunting times, putting business aside, we always agreed in the end to do the right thing. That type of moral authority gave me vision and a solid foundation for everything else I was to tackle in the following decades. We both knew that later, in each other’s absence and miles away, we would both make decisions based on what we’d shared early in our careers. Even now, as we reconnect as the more experienced, wiser ladies that we are, there is respect in every word we share. She may not know it, but her class and dignity are unmatched by anyone else except my own mother.
When I recently received news from my girlfriend of 40-plus years that she had breast cancer, I had to close the message and turn away. She had been through so much already. When we finally sat down to talk through her grim news, what did we do? We exchanged stories of her cancer – the same type that I had 15 years ago when she was supporting me. We talked about doctors, treatment, and the unfairness of it all… for about 10 minutes. Then we toasted one another, clinked our wine glasses, and strolled down memory lane, recalling all the crazy adventures life had blessed us with. From our current woes to the best of times, our friendship is the story of life. Loathing turned into laughter and laughter gave way to awesomeness. It’s those moments when we lift one another up that we live for.
Finally, there’s the girlfriend who knows you so well she can make you laugh when you really want to cry. In fact, you depend on her for that. That’s why you call her early in the morning to start your day, even if it’s just to hear her voice. Or you call her late at night, knowing she’ll take your call, and she lets you go on and on once more. No words can describe that kind of bond, but if you know it, how blessed you are!
Thank you, gal pals, for sticking it out – for growing and knowing we’re in different places yet holding on to what we once had. Your acts of friendship have impacted my life in ways you’ll never know. It’s knowing I can call upon you – and there you are. It’s hearing your advice in my head. It’s these things that make you my forever friend, because that’s what girlfriends do.
Abella Carroll is a freelance writer