LESLIE CRISS: Annual gathering nourishes spirits, strengthens ties

“There is no hope of joy
except in human relations.”
– Antoine de Sainte-Exupery

“I get by with a little help
from my friends.”
– John Lennon

“Don’t be dismayed at goodbyes.
A farewell is necessary before you can meet again. And meeting again, after moments or lifetimes, is certain for those
who are friends.”
– Richard Bach

Three years ago, a conversation commenced among a group of girls. Seven, to be specific.
The talk centered on planning a gathering so we could reconnect after 20-something years of only sporadic sightings.
Someone might take issue with my use of the term girls. We have all landed on the far side of 50.
Still and yet, I call us girls because I can. And I mean it in every positive way.
We met, the seven of us, as college students back in the late ’70s and early ’80s. And friendships formed. The sort of friendships that time and distance do not overwhelm.
It’s our commitment to keeping connected that’s proved to be one of our fiercest commonalities.
Sure we have our differences, but they don’t define who we are when we are together.
I’ll confess to some anxiety before our first get-together in Gatlinburg. I worried and wondered under how powerful a microscope we might examine each other’s lives.
I needn’t have worried. I ought to have known whatever lens we looked through would be tempered by love.
The weekend was filled with fun activities, good food, a lot of life sharing and, oh, so much laughter. A few of us pooh-poohed craft night, but our participation gifted us all with memories to treasure.
Last year, I was unable to make it to Seaside, Fla. So our group dwindled to six. I’m told it was an off year. Rain kept the beach soggy and mostly off limits; a kidney stone threw one out of commission for a time; and a recent chemo treatment and a bout of food poisoning, kept two old friends busy during the weekend.
I’m told it was a good weekend to miss. I am in full agreement.
Last weekend we gathered, again only six of us, in a large and lofty house on a lake just south of Birmingham.
Once more, food was plentiful and tasty, filling our bellies well past the point of simple satisfaction.
More importantly our souls and spirits were nourished by love and laughter, memories and the magical moments that make new ones.
In our brief span of time together, we were reminded, once again, of the life-affirming power of friendship.
And in the years to come, no matter our number – seven, six or fewer – or the amount of time that passes, we will continue what we’ve started.
This tending of ties.

Contact Leslie Criss at (662) 678-1584 or leslie.criss@djournal.com.

LESLIE CRISS / NEMS Daily Journal