My oldest daughter Mackenzie, who lives in the city, came home this past weekend. On Sunday, we had a great time shopping and running errands. When we were ready to head back, Mackenzie suggested we go “the pretty way.” Also known as the back way. It’s a two-lane road with white fences on either side and sprawling ranches in the backdrop.
Before we got to the “pretty” road, we passed the lake. It’s partly surrounded by a shopping center, with restaurants and boutiques. I gazed at the sparkling water and let out a loud sigh. Mackenzie looked at me, as if to say, What was that for?
Memories came flooding in.
That’s where I often went with a special group of friends. There were six of us. We’d have lunch at one of those restaurants. We’d sit on the patio, with a stunning view of the lake. It felt like we were on a cruise ship, dining on the outside deck.
My friends and I met years ago when one of the ladies hired a chef to give a cooking class at her house. Once a month, we traded off meeting at each of our homes. We’d peel, chop, and sauté all morning and then sit down to enjoy the fruits of our labor for lunch. We called ourselves “the cooking club.”
Eventually we didn’t have the chef come anymore. So we did potlucks. Until we decided to go out to eat instead. We were still known as “the cooking club,” but without the cooking.
None of us ever wanted to miss that monthly gathering. Our children were in elementary through high school, and we had funny or heartbreaking stories to tell about each one. We chatted, listened, and sympathized. But mostly we laughed. I cherished that laughter. I treasured the way we understood each other, and could relate mother to mother, wife to wife, woman to woman.
Back then, I took it for granted that I’d always have this wonderful group to go to lunch with. And that our life journeys would remain relatively smooth and filled with joy.
But that precious sliver of time didn’t last.
I’ve often wanted to go back to what we had before. Before our lives evolved and change was forced upon us.
Before my mother-in-law fell and broke her neck. Before one of us was diagnosed with breast cancer. Before three of our mothers passed away. Before one of us moved across the country. Before one of our husbands died suddenly of a heart attack.
Now we’re empty nesters and in a different season of life. But I have no doubt that members of our “cooking club” will be friends forever.
Our bonds are stronger because of our challenges. We’ve made it through our hardships because of our friendships.
I hold these women near and dear to my heart. And oh, how I’d love to sit at a table with them at that restaurant on the lake. We’d munch on salads and sip iced teas, chat, and laugh so hard we’d cry.
Mackenzie, that’s the reason for my heavy sigh.
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