From the time I was twelve years old until eighteen, I attended a school that had the motto, Non scholae sed Vitae Discimus. (We learn not for school, but for life).
I attended with a small group of young women, about sixty of us, who as we attended school together formed bonds we didn't even realize we were forming. As I have written before, some friendships are stronger than time and space. These are the bonds that were formed in part because some of us walked to school together.
When you walk to school with a girlfriend you talk and talk... And talk. About everything. You visit each other's homes. You meet each other's families.
I had two very special Walking to School Friends. We sang together in the school Chorus, and in the more elite "Ensemble" during our Senior year. We acted in plays together, and sometime we competed for the same solos.
These days we'll go for months without a connection. Far flung, many of us see each other face to face only at ten-year reunions when it is as if we saw each other yesterday. In between the planned meetings, sometimes something happens. An Illness. A parent who died too young. Divorce. Widowhood. A child is hurt, or worse. A natural disaster occurs and one becomes homeless for a time.
When these somethings occur, one of us may make a phone call, or write a letter. Then we women get to work on the business of love and support. We know the value of a handwritten note, a bunch of flowers, or a phone call. There is a sisterhood amongst people who virtually and literally grew up together. And where there are sisters, there is usually love. And sister love is powerful.
One of my Walking-to-School Friends is facing what may be her final illness. This is a woman who is surrounded by love even without her sisters. She has a loving husband, wonderful daughters, delightful grandchildren, a multitude of friends, a cherished pet. But recently a letter was written; an email was sent.
Her husband tells me that they already receive daily notes and flowers from loved ones. Neighbors bring food. Even a gift of labor, for the unfinished tree-house that he promised their grandchildren, a project that was postponed due to the interminable doctors' visits and a focus on something else. But when the women who were once school-mates learned of their sister's illness, something exploded.
I am again reminded of the simple power of love. As I read back over drafts of posts I've written here over the last couple of years it's a recurring theme. I guess I can't say it, or learn it enough. When my Walking-to-School friend wrote to me yesterday she said, "Thank you for your loving kindness all the years of our life." Singular.
So I take a breath. I remember my childhood. I feel the loving kindness.