Bitches Brew, or the women in my life

2021 was a weird one, friends. The promise with which it began quickly devolved into chaos within the new year’s first week.  Things after that, to me, never quite seemed real.  Seriously, on more than one occasion, I caught myself dating correspondence or banking paperwork as the previous year, 2020.
 
It was almost as if life had stopped in 2020 and had not yet restarted.
 
When I reflect back on the past 12 months, what I’m most struck by is the strength and depth of the relationships I’ve developed with women. There’s never been a time in my life when I’ve felt that I’ve had a greater posse of incredible women riding beside me.
 
As someone who considers themself to be a “guy’s girl,” this has been an interesting realization.
 
My female friends come in all sorts of flavors and each bring different qualities to my life. I could describe them collectively as a combination of sister/cousin/mother/aunt/daughter, but each one delivers something unique and true – and ever so welcomed.
 
It makes me wonder if I perhaps cultivated these diverse connections as an attempt to fill the places that remained vacant due to my own lack of a maternal presence. Not that that really matters – I’d much prefer to focus on what is present in my life, rather than on what might be lacking.
 
The women in my life fill many roles – there’s my OG GWL squad whom I’ve literally grown up with, my Albany peeps who welcomed me into upstate life and witnessed chapters that included college, marriage, motherhood and divorce, my running partners who helped push me to attempt physical challenges I never would have imagined, my Cape Cod coven with whom no topic is off limits and a handful of other women who inspire me professionally, personally and spiritually.
 
During this year in which I finally reached a degree of peace with regards to the status of my relationship, or lack thereof, with my mother, the women in my life have provided me with consistent comfort and acceptance. I don’t have to defend or justify my choices. They get me.
 
And I so appreciate each of them.
 
As I spent the last week of 2021 unexpectedly at home, I found myself binge watching television (Succession S3!), hanging with friends and eating way too many carbs. I hadn’t brought my usual stack of books home from school to read since I had expected to be traveling, and at a quiet moment I instead reached for something that has been on my shelf for almost twenty years – Looking for Mary by Beverly Donoforio.
 
It’s been a long time since I’ve read this book, but as is often the case, I revisited it at what seems like the right time. I’m in a place where I want to be surrounded by female energy and strength and, while I don’t consider myself a Catholic, had our paths crossed in life, I believe good ole Mary just might have been a friend of mine.
 
She’s definitely someone I find myself drawn to during times of difficulty or extreme sadness. While I’m not necessarily in a bad place emotionally, there have in the past been moments of sorrow in my life in which I’ve found strength from keeping religious medallions of Mary close.
 
For many years, I had Mary suspended from a black silk thread. The medal had been a gift from my Aunt the nun, a fact which seemed, to me, to instill the pendant with some sort of mystical ability to soothe me during troubled times. I shared that necklace with someone who needed comfort more than I and have regretted my generous impulse more than once in the ensuing years.
 
I honestly felt a little lost without her.
 
But, while I was poking through my vanity and a collection of jewelry and trinkets, I discovered a long forgotten alternate religious medal of Mary. I immediately slid her onto the chain I had received as a gift from one of my sons, where she hid behind the original pendant he had thoughtfully selected.
 
It turns out that I’ve since come across other medals, all gifts from my now deceased Aunt and great Aunts, each of whom were Catholic nuns in Germany. I’ve examined these religious medallions and am fascinated by their origins and messages. They’ve been blessed by priests in France and Italy and Germany, submerged in waters reputed to have healing qualities. They’re special, at least to me.
 
The significance of having received these spiritual talismans from women to whom I’m related isn’t lost on me. These sisters of the cloth may no longer be of this world, but their gifts to me remain as important reminders of the connections between the women of my maternal family and me.

 

I live surrounded by males, (children, pets, etc), but it’s consistently the women in my life who help to make that possible. Without their wisdom, honesty and strength, life would be infinitely less satisfying. So, I’ll begin this shiny new year by expressing my appreciation for their continued presence – be it in person, in print or in spirit. Thanks, friends, you are the best and I am so lucky that you’re part of my life.

 

Let’s have a great 2022!

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