The essence of friendship

Published 8:40 am Tuesday, July 31, 2018

We met once a week at noon for lunch. There were eight of us and better friends you’d never find. We called ourselves the WooHoos and we even shared a philosophy of life: “Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intent of arriving safely in an attractive and well-preserved body, but rather, to skid in sideways, chocolate in one hand and a glass of hearty merlot in the other, body thoroughly used up, totally worn out and screaming, ‘WooHoo, what a ride.’”

In other words, we enjoyed life and each other, and I still try to live my life by this philosophy.

One Christmas, we put on a fancy dinner at one of our houses. Each one brought something to eat and a gift for the name we had drawn earlier.

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Going around the dinner table, each of us opened our gift.

We had special dates every once in a while and it seems, of all of us, I was the most daring and silly of the group. This night was no different.

Before it was my turn to open my gift, the gifts had been things like scented candles, books and drawer sachets. But because I was fun to tease, mine was different.

There was a lot of pretty tissue paper in the gift bag, and when I got to the bottom, out came this lacy, sexy thong.

It was black with pink lace bows on one side. I held it up for everybody to see. They all burst out laughing.

Listen, I did not have the slightest idea how one wore this see-through thong, but I did have an idea.

They teased me, so I’d show them.

While they were dishing up the dessert, I slipped into the bathroom. Off came my skirt, blouse, shoes, hose and my own underwear.

Finally, I guessed how women wore such things and I slipped the thing on and walked back into the dining room.

All talk and laughter stopped. There was dead silence.

Then hysteria broke out as one by one they realized I was walking around the dining room with nothing but a bra and thong. Not only that, but I had put the thong on backwards with the pink bow on the front.

Cameras came out and pictures were taken from every angle. I commanded that nobody gets those pictures developed in this town. I was the local columnist … and, well, you get it.

This shows the fun we had together but a day came when all that changed.

Our friend Judy was diagnosed with terminal breast cancer. She had beat it twice before, but this time it had spread.

Because of the deep commitment we had to each other, we continued to meet for lunch once a week and one of us would pick up Judy so we could all be together.

We would cut up and laugh just like always until the day came Judy took to her bed and told us she hated to be alone all day while Walter, her husband, was at work.

So we seven worked out a schedule immediately where one of us was with her until he came home. There was no question or excuse about being too busy to do this.

Judy knew time was very short. She called me on a Saturday morning. She wanted everybody to be there.

I called everyone. Someone brought a bottle of hearty merlot, another brought stemmed glasses, several brought the finest dark chocolate and at 10 a.m. every WooHoo was there around her bed.

We all shared the wine and the chocolate and then we talked to each other, to Judy, and Judy to each of us.

We sang “Amazing Grace,” our arms around each other and around Judy. She was open and honest about dying and how much she loved each one of us.

From that Saturday until she passed, one of us spent the days and nights with her. When the call came from Walter she had gone home, it was about 5 a.m.

We gathered in her living room in robes, barefoot, pajamas, whatever. It didn’t matter. The power of love we shared was so strong.

At Judy’s request we continued to meet weekly and eat and be WooHoos.

I truly struggled when Judy died. She taught me life is an adventure and that relationship, in the end, is absolutely all there is.

Never will I forget the joy of being connected so strongly to seven women who could make anything fun but could come forward to do anything asked of them.

I struggled and then I reread the book by Kahlil Gibran called “The Prophet.” In it was a chapter on friendship. It helped me by saying better than I could ever say the essence of friendship. The four statements I memorized from his book were these.

“And let your best be for your friend.”

“For it is his to fill your need but not your emptiness.”

“And in the sweetness of friendship let there be laughter and sharing of pleasures.”

“For in the dew of little things, the heart finds its morning and is refreshed.”

I still love and miss every one of these women. They taught me about friendship and what is required of me and what I get in return. I’m so thankful to know this.

The view from the mountain is wondrous.

Jean Brody is a passionate animal lover and mother. She previously lived in Winchester, but now resides in Littleton, Colorado. Her column has appeared in the Sun for more than 25 years.