Making the case for girlfriends (If I could talk to my mother today)
I would have girlfriends today if for no other reason than that my mother didn’t, and I viewed her life as lacking in that one very important way.
Of course I think of my own mother this time of year, and I remember sadly the way she died. ALS is a scary ending. She was already widowed by then and was lost without him. Those years before she left us are difficult in memory even after more than a decade. During that long time of being bedridden, no girlfriends came to visit.
And not a single solitary girlfriend crossed my mother’s threshold in all the years I lived at home. Her husband and her work were everything to her. She talked about school chums, but I never met any.
Maybe her own mother would be the closest she had to a girlfriend, if by that you mean telling each other nearly everything. But there was more competition there than support and I wouldn’t want a relationship like the one they had - not with a friend and not with a mother.
At the end of her life, her accomplishments were (I hope) what she had as comfort. Professional colleagues phoned - singers and musicians and fellow evangelists. But no girlfriend called.
It’s not because we’re going to die eventually that we need girlfriends. It’s not just so we have them available for bedside vigils. It’s because of the ways they help us live.
Everything is easier with girlfriends and when the going gets rough, even if a girlfriend can’t make the trouble go away, her presence makes it better. Boyfriends and husbands and other relatives can be a comfort, but perhaps because the language between girlfriends doesn’t require translation, understanding is immediate.
Not just for mothers, but for all women, I wish us more time to appreciate girlfriends - both old and new. For anyone who’s lost a girlfriend - through moving or death or attrition of any kind, go find a replacement right away.
Ó Anita Garner 2009
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