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Southern Novelist
04.08.2011 (2721 days ago)
Books (1 posts)
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The Power of Friendship

One of the themes in Saving CeeCee Honeycutt is the impact that friendship (or it’s absence) can have on our lives. True friends see our goodness and flaws, strengths and weaknesses, and they love us for who we are rather than in spite of what we might lack. Throughout my life I’ve valued my friends, and among the most important things I’ve learned is that friendships come in all sorts of surprising ways and shouldn’t be limited by differences in age, background, or race.

The formative years of my childhood were lived on my grandparents’ farm. It was a rural area and there were very few kids to play with, so I was raised among the easy, unhurried ways of older women. From my garden-loving grandma, each one made an indelible impression upon me.

How blessed I was to be exposed to the simple yet oftentimes remarkable words of wisdom that came from interacting with women who had lived through decades that encompassed everything from unexpected joys and triumphs to unspeakable tragedies. Those day-to-day interactions gave me a foundation that has held me up ever since. Never have I heard more profound truths than those that were spoken in my grandmother’s old kitchen during the hot, humid days of canning season.

Then came the day that I entered first grade. From the moment I took my seat in that tiny classroom, I found myself feeling uncomfortable and awkward. Who were these squealing little people in lace-topped socks and crisp gingham dresses, and what on earth did I have in common with them? I was so accustomed to interacting with older women that the giggling language of girls my own age left me tongue-tied. It took me a long while to adjust to my classmates, and even after I did, I was always glad to return to my grandmother’s kitchen where, as far as I could tell, things just made a whole lot more sense.

When I left my career in interior design and set out to write a novel, it never occurred to me that I would draw so heavily on the simple but rich experiences I had with my grandmother and her friends. But when a little girl named CeeCee arrived in my imagination and her story began to unfold in ways I never would have guessed, the years I spent surrounded by older women gave me the foundation to build upon—those were precisely the kinds of friendships that CeeCee needed during her summer of healing.

Not long ago an email was forwarded to me, and as I read it I kept nodding in agreement. I’ve never found out who wrote it, but it sums up so much of what I feel about friendship and I’d like to share it.

Time passes.
Life happens.
Distance separates.
Love waxes and wanes.
Hearts break.
Careers end.
Parents die.
Colleagues forget favors.
Marriages collapse.

But ...

Girlfriends are there no matter how many miles are between them. A girlfriend is never farther away than needing her can reach.

When you walk that lonesome valley and you have to walk it for yourself, your girlfriends will be standing on the rim, cheering for you, praying for you, and waiting with open arms at the valley's end. Sometimes, they’ll even break the rules and walk beside you. Or, they’ll come in and carry you out.

The world wouldn't be the same without them, and neither would I.

When we began this adventure called womanhood, we had no idea of the incredible happiness and sorrows that lay ahead. Nor did we know how much we would need each other.

Every day, we need each other still.

Queenie · 2721 days ago
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  •  Karen-Monroy: 
    What a beautiful essay! Thank you for your generous heart Dear-heart!
     2715 days ago 
    0 points
  •  Queenie: 
    Y'all are lovely friends. Thanks for your sweet words!
     2716 days ago·1 replies1 replies 
    0 points
  •  hookedonwdw: 
    What a lovely post! And I love the bit of background on your perspective for CeeCee. Absolutely endearing! So many of us relate to that feeling in the classroom and yet the comfort of the very best girlfriend can make it all seem ok. The rekindling of a friendship with my 8th grade BFF, the start of our blog to dicuss books and the way CeeCee fell into our laps at the exact moment is just too much of a coincidence. So thank you Beth, for being part of that in a way that only an author and PVSG could!
     2716 days ago 
    1 point
  •  doreenb8: 
    I visited with 2 girlfriends last night I have not seen in 15 years. I was nervous and felt awkward. After five minutes the time and distance between us totally disappeared. I have not laughed so much in a very long time. Great message, Beth.
     2718 days ago 
    0 points
  •  JennyleefromTN: 
    It is a bit breathtaking to think about the impact that WE might have, as the "older" women, on our nieces, daughters, children's friends, or students. We could be someone's Oletta, or any other character from your book, Beth. I think that ties in nicely with the August theme, women as leaders. The company of my women friendships is a treasure too heavy to hold. It's a good thing too. It makes one less thing I have to carry. It carries and inspires me, by just being. Love the post!
     2720 days ago 
    0 points
The Power of Friendship