Watermelon friends – Big Girl Panties II

red ink…

This is really a funny title because my girl doesn’t even like watermelon, but I love it. Did you ever put salt on your watermelon when you were a kid? To me, the saltiness was the perfect balance for the sweetness of the melon, and together they made me feel like I was filling up on sunshine. My friends, whose sweet, gentle humor helps me chuckle my way through the saltiness of my tears are the ones I need most in the midst of crisis. Here’s just one example. . .

This wacky, crazy, oh so necessary sister-friendship that gave birth to this blog takes place across one at least one “important divide” that is most certainly trivial in light of everything else. You see, the two of us belong, respectively, to each of the two largest public service organizations comprised primarily of college educated african-american women. For most of this 20+ years of friendship, we have teased each other at every turn about the desirability of each organization (both are full of phenomenal women who have made significant contributions) and always tease about the colors associated with each organization (pink and green for her, and red and white for me). We even have our daughters in on it — brainwashed from birth. Silly I know, but it makes us laugh, and sometimes you just need a little comic relief. Believe it or not, it’s how I got her baby to stop crying when she called me disappointed that she couldn’t go in (as promised) to see her mom’s treatment because of a rigid hospital policy. (See “Big Girl Panties I” post).  I knew that the two of them had planned to wear matching feather earrings, and I asked her about the colors.   Of course, she said “pink and green.”    I reached for my funny bone even as my heart was breaking as I listened through the tears to her telling me that she wished I were there.  I told her that I loved her and that if I could, I would get on a plane that minute, but I couldn’t possibly come if she were wearing those colors!  She laughed out loud, and was magically ready to go on and face the world in her big girl panties — albeit pink!  At that moment, I was ever so grateful that we had this silly, wonderful, gentle teasing about something so mundane — sorority rivalry for God sakes — that we could resort to at this very tough moment. Oh, the power of a little humor!

Both of us are criers, but we have always managed to find a way to laugh through our tears in everything that we’ve faced – our pregnancies, life with our husbands, our career mishaps and startling successes, being more like our mothers than we usually care to admit, my son’s diagnosis and life with Asperger’s, our parents’, our husbands’, our children’s and now, our own, health challenges. Our favorite text shorthand is “Lol” and we use it almost every day.

Last week, we chatted through “Lol’s” about how useless the pity party conversations are to us. (We’ve both have had more than our share throughout this journey and others.) You know what I’m talking about – well meaning people who listen and answer every pause with an “awwwww….” or a sad, mournful look in an effort to commiserate. Really useless. What to do with people who call to make you feel better, and who you end up comforting? Not ok. Worse yet, the folks who ignore your challenges or tell you to just “buck up.” I’m not sure about you, but it’s the friends who make you laugh through your tears, who share with you that something really sucks without the pity, and who just listen and allow you to tell them how you feel, that you really desperately need to hear from when you’re going through a hard time. I’m thankful to have this kind of friend — it’s my very best Christmas gift every day, and it’s my wish for all of our readers this holiday season. Cheers!

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