I walk through the doorway and enfold her into my open arms. She is fragile both emotionally and physically; her body feels thinner as we embrace. Is it possible that she is a widow at such a young age? It is hard to believe that he is actually gone. How I loved that ornery, opinionated man. His humor was one of a kind and his love for her shone with the brilliance of the sun on his face. I will all of my strength into her as we stand molded together, oblivious of everything and everyone around us. This woman is my friend and I will support and encourage and accompany her through her grief. My eyes are teary but I fight the urge, trying to be strong for her. I withdraw slowly, placing a gentle kiss on her cheek. I smile and she returns the smile with tearing eyes on her mournful face.
It has been years since that day but the memory is fresh and clear in my mind as if it were yesterday. I don’t know if it was the feeling of absolute oneness with another human being that I felt at that particular moment, or my sympathy for my friend’s pain, that keeps the thought close but I will never forget that moment.
Friends, people that reach out and engrain themselves deep into your heart until they are a part of who you are, a part of your soul. That feeling is rare and precious and it is forever.
It started out as a weekly get together; a time when three friends could get together to laugh or cry; a time to help her forget her grief, if even for a few hours. But it grew into much more than that, it was something to look forward to, something special and wonderful. Our number soon grew from two to four and we became the Ya- ya girls. The name adopted from a movie we watched during one of our weekly get togethers. A movie about friendship and four wild and crazy women who loved and cared for each other. From that day on we called ourselves the Ya ya girls and even made silly hats as a sort of initiation. Each hat was decorated with memorabilia of our excursions, plus several tacky items just for fun. We looked ridiculous but we felt wonderful. We belonged.
Let me introduce the Ya ya girls. First, my name is Shirley, I am a writer and this is my story. Second we have Jean, our young widow, next is Carol the kindest, gentlest woman you ever wanted to know and fourth but not least Carol’s sister, the feisty, often outspoken Barbara. Our fifth and honorary Ya ya is Sue, Jean’s sister. Sue lives quite a distance from us but joins us whenever she is in town.
As I said, it all began with Carol and I trying to keep Jean distracted, but the four of us soon blended and merged into a tight group.
Sue joined the group the day we drank bottles of Boone’s Farm Wine and all giggled and laughed until we cried. We are not sure if it was the wine or the company, but she was made an honorary member and the laughing continues still.
I remember the day we took Carol to the hospital with dizzy spells, the rest of us paced the waiting room filled with worry and concern for our dear friend. We chatted and joked to distract ourselves but our thoughts remained in the emergency room with Carol. No family was closer. Fortunately, some medication and a few doctor’s visits put our friend back in the fold. We drove her crazy with our fussing but she put up with it because she knew we cared.
Jean met a wonderful gentleman a few years later and many humorous get-togethers were spent discussing his assets and liabilities. Finally she married him with all of the Ya ya’s in attendance. Sue, who planned the wedding very carefully, was most concerned that we would show up wearing our Ya ya hats and ruin the seriousness of the occasion. We held back until the reception but then it was a Ya ya day and everyone thoroughly enjoyed themselves. Sue, throwing caution to the wind, quickly produced a highly decorated Ya ya hat of her own. Sisters indeed!
Shirley A. Roe