I’ve made good friends throughout my life, but my best friends are the women I met in college. We found each other on the precipice of adulthood and jumped into it holding hands. They taught me how to argue, cry, listen, apologize, and how to move on. We talked each other through final exams and job interviews and dates gone awry. We celebrated every birthday with dinner and went dancing on countless nights.
Time passed, and one by one, we met the men who would become our husbands. We couldn’t wait to be part of each other’s weddings.
But after our veils had been packed away, our grownup responsibilities took a toll. We had careers to build and new homes to care for. I was the first one to have a baby, and breastfeeding difficulties and sleep deprivation hit me hard. When my friends’ children arrived, we discovered our parenting styles were different. I had my second daughter, and then I went back to work. I really struggled with balancing it all. I’d go weeks without talking to anyone.
I missed my friends. My life eventually became more manageable, and I found my way back to them. It’s different than it used to be. Phone calls end quickly now. At barbeques and birthday parties, most of us are supervising preschoolers or soothing an infant while trying to have a conversation. Nights out require extensive preparation. We’ve discovered that group texting is one of the world’s great inventions.
One November evening, I got a picture message: M’s left hand with a new diamond ring. I grinned. M and her fiancé adored each other. It’s fun to watch. And once again, I’d get to be part of a wedding.
The last wedding.
I expected to have some mixed emotions. The final tie to my bar-hopping, silver eye shadow-wearing, former self was about to be severed. But the makeup was tossed out a long time ago, and I don’t miss it.
Instead, I was simply relieved. While weddings are always exciting, I was glad that this part of our lives was almost done. All my friends would finally be settled, and I knew that the marriages were built to last. My friends and I chose our partners well. We found men that would stand beside us through all the good, the bad, and the mundane moments of life.
M and her fiancé chose a lovely day to be married. The late afternoon skies were a steady, cloudless blue. The bride’s gown was simple but elegant. She had silk flowers in her hair. She was beautiful (and her groom looked very handsome, too). When the photographer snapped bridal party photos, everyone’s smiles were genuine. Soft music played as we lined up for the procession. We carried bouquets of sunflowers down the aisle. The ceremony brought me to tears.
At the reception, my friends and I danced with our husbands, and we danced with each other. We took silly pictures in the photo booth and group selfies with our phones. The evening flew by too quickly.
We headed home. I was exhausted, but I gently placed my gown on a hanger. I ran a finger over the soft chiffon. Perhaps one of my daughters would want to try it on. They love games of dress-up and had a dozen costumes. They could add this one to their collection.
I smiled a little at the thought of my little daughters playing Bride. I hope they both get a chance to stand under a real chuppah someday. But no matter if or whom they marry, I hope they love each other all their lives. And I hope they have friends to teach them that family isn’t always bound to us by blood. I want them to learn what I did: Our friends are the family we choose.