Friendships can develop in many ways. Some are expected: when kindergartners find themselves sharing a snack, say, or when two moms meet at the gym and find they love both spending time with their children and finding precious time away from them.
Some friendships take you by surprise, which is how it happened with Ginny and me. We met through a mutual friend almost ten years ago.
Ginny had a home-based craft business, and I called on her often to make one-of-a-kind gifts for friends and their children, as well as to create keepsakes for my daughters’ various milestones. There were chocolate birthday party favors, a high school graduation quilt made of T-shirts, and many a dance recital costume that needed altering. Ginny was always happy to oblige, even when I couldn’t give her much notice.
When it came time to tell friends and neighbors that my family and I were moving out of state, I called Ginny personally, as the thought of her passing my house on the way to the park and seeing a “for sale” sign with no warning seemed insensitive.
While we’d never so much as gone out for coffee in all the time we’d known each other, we shared many a chat in my foyer when she stopped by—her newborn sleeping in the car at times—to pick up what needed mending or drop off one of her latest creations.
We talked about all kinds of things—mostly parenting and the challenges that come with having children more than a few years apart. We were grateful not to be taking part in that “crazy busy” community of moms who overscheduled their children and then complained of exhaustion incessantly. We thought that we were good parents and good planners, focused on quality time with our children.
It was Ginny who was one of my biggest cheerleaders when I landed a position as a local magazine editor. I joked that she was part of a small but exclusive fan club who’d tell me each issue that they’d actually read my editor’s letter and liked the magazine’s content. Ginny never failed to lift me up, always complimenting my achievements whether personal or professional, always telling me what a great person she thought I was. It was Ginny who talked me off the ledge when my older daughter’s prom gown returned from the dry cleaner with a stain on it (this was before the prom) and listened to my “dance mom drama.” After seeing my failed attempt at securing elastic with a stapler to my daughter’s recital top hat, she laughed and asked, “Has she had her tetanus shot?”
It was Ginny who listened to my concerns once our “for sale” sign went up—that my husband and I were now tackling a commuter marriage until we could move at the end of the school year, how concerned I was for my younger daughter and how she’d adjust to fitting in at the tender age of eleven, how my widowed mom would fare after we left, and on and on. Ginny listened with support, and we continued meeting in my foyer, wrapping up final projects: good-bye gifts for teachers and the women at the salon; one last set of dance-recital-themed candy bouquets.
So it was no easy day when Ginny made her last delivery to me one morning: this time a quilt of woven T-shirts for my younger daughter, one that included bits and pieces of the life she had made from preschooler to middle-schooler. I gave Ginny a handwritten note that expressed all that she and our chats had meant to me over the years and how much I would miss not only her many talents but her friendship too. A special bond had been made in my foyer, but now it was time to move on. Like they say, to everything a season. My future—and that of my family—was now daunting and uncertain.
After Ginny gave me my daughter’s quilt, she handed me a bag. As I reached in, I realized that while I had gifted many of Ginny’s custom-made creations over the years, I would now have something that I could call my own. I pulled out a beautifully embroidered pillow, on it stitched the words, “Bloom Where You Are Planted.”
Ginny—fighting the tears we promised we wouldn’t shed—told me that many years ago, when she herself had moved to a strange place—no family or friends to be found—she had come upon this saying and had made herself a pillow with the same words stitched upon it, similar to the one that I was now holding. She said that until she found her way, she looked at that pillow each and every day, until eventually, she “bloomed.” She said she had faith that I would do the same.
Suddenly, my future didn’t seem so intimidating. I packed that pillow into one of our “open immediately” boxes so that I would feel as if I had some sense of familiarity in our new home, and perhaps an angel looking over my shoulder.
Ginny and I still keep in touch. In fact, one day she told me that she had been at the supermarket (the only other place we had run into each other over the years) and thought she saw me. We said we missed each other, and our chats.
The pillow now rests on a chair in the sitting room of my new home, surrounded by other things that give me great comfort—my yoga blanket, my books, and the gift of a true friend.
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