For me,there is nothing as precious as the sound of women laughing and crying together: the voices of my childhood. All the years growing up in a household of mostly women, the occasional squabbles or petty annoyances were always washed away in the laughter and tears of our sisterhood. How can you stay angry with someone who is the same person that causes you to have fits of such belly-shaking laughter that your sides literally hurt and your voice is hoarse from the hours spent talking over each other, (always miraculously understanding all three conversations at once as they happened simultaneously?)
The music of my sisters returned this past weekend at our annual beach “butterfly gathering”….. (the sisters who became mothers who are now grandmothers all come together-the mothers and daughters and nieces and cousins). We had a three month old male representative at our girl’s weekend this year, and his rare cry was soothed by the steady waves of voices sometimes soft and at times raucous, with arms out-stretched in our shared motherhood. As we talked about our lives and told our old and more recent stories, the relationships of years forged through hardship and sadness and joy and separateness always feels newly
polished to me, a precious metal that sometimes turns a little dull with the burdens of life and time spent apart.
Our last night together, we sisters talked quietly among ourselves (not within earshot of our daughters because we know they don’t want to have this conversation). We are aware that one of us will die first, we each dread this reality and joke together about not wanting to be the last left, and how hard it will be for us when the first goes. We talk about what we want those remaining to know; and how we want to be celebrated; and where we want our ashes spread; and how we want our pine box painted by all our loved ones; and taking care of the sister’s children left behind; and how outrageous the wake should be. It’s a little surreal, this conversation, yet as life hurries by, we each of us have a sense of the necessity. Maybe we have another 30 years of coming together; maybe this was our last. No one dwells on this fact. But the
unpredictability of life causes us to know that this precious time together
cannot be taken for granted.
I sit back and watch the young mothers, our daughters, who will teach and love their daughters, and I appreciate that years go by, in a whisper and a hand-breath, but relationships are something golden. They often become a bit tarnished; they may suffer wear and tear and even require repair work now and then.
They are the treasure found in this life.
“Perhaps this is the most important thing for me to take back from beach-living: simply the memory that each cycle of the tide is valid; each cycle of the wave is valid; each cycle of a relationship is valid…one should lie empty, open, choiceless as a beach—waiting for a gift from the sea.”
(Anne Lindbergh, Gift from the Sea)