Soul sisters

Posted on July 16, 2010
Filed under Columns & essays | 12 Comments | Email This Post

Is solace anywhere more comforting than in the arms of a sister?”  ~Alice Walker

A dear friend of mine is undergoing cancer surgery this week. It’s the kind of surgery I can’t imagine having to face, and while my friend is handling it with grace and courage, my heart is breaking for her.

She’s part of a small group of friends I call my “soul sisters.” The four of us met 16 years ago when I started a women’s spirituality circle at our church. We soon discovered that the difference in our ages only enriched the connection, and our friendship deepened even more after we started organizing our own retreats. We’d book rooms at a nearby Jesuit retreat center, where we’d stay up all night and rehash our doubts and toughest questions as well as our belief in something greater. I like to remember those nights as soul-filling pajama parties.

Over the years we’ve rallied our collective strength to grieve and repair our wounds and losses. I was a certified basket case the week before my first hip replacement surgery, for instance. So the soul sisters booked an overnight retreat to get me out of the house and to ease my anxiety. We’ve also celebrated birthdays, holidays, and our kids’ graduations together. But the thread that really binds us is the unshakable knowledge that our love is unconditional.

Since I am an only child, having “sisters” like these is one of the greatest gifts in my life.

Earlier this week the four of us gathered for lunch at an upscale seafood restaurant. We wanted to see our friend one more time before her surgery, and to give her a safe place to talk about the days ahead. We wanted to renew our vow of solidarity, and to remind her that we’re here to do anything she needs.  It was a humid afternoon, and despite the fact that a storm was brewing, we chose to dine outdoors on the restaurant’s patio.

An hour passed quickly, as it always does when we’re together. Meanwhile, the sky turned charcoal, thunder rumbled, and the rain came down. It drummed like a mad percussionist on the canvas patio cover, threatening to dampen our table — but it didn’t. So we stayed outside under the canopy, just the four of us, talking and laughing nonstop.

And we enjoyed the rain. We all agreed there was something cozy and romantic about it — sort of like being little kids and feeling safe in bed under the covers while a storm roars overhead.

And that’s what pure friendship is all about, really. It’s about feeling safe with each other when the storms roll in, sometimes one after another. Our friend told us as we left the restaurant that she believed her surgery would be successful, no matter what the outcome, because she had so many loved ones lifting her up.  She reminded us that love is more powerful than anything and is impervious to things like cancer and surgery. Love rides out the storm. — Cindy La Ferle

— The oil painting above, “Four Women and Music,” is by Marilene Sawaf, and is used with her kind permission. Please visit Marilene’s beautiful blog to learn more about her art.  —


12 Responses to “Soul sisters”

  1. deb @ talk at the table on July 16th, 2010 9:06 am

    This is achingly beautiful.
    Prayers for your friend.

    and for your heart that is loving her through this.

    you write the sun rising here.

  2. starrlife on July 16th, 2010 5:44 pm

    Captured the essence of it. You are so lucky to have those gals! I hope that it all turned out okay.

  3. joanna jenkins on July 16th, 2010 5:52 pm

    Unconditional love is always the best medicine in my book. This was a beautiful posts Cindy and I’ll say an extra prayer for your soul sister.

    xo jj

  4. Mychelle on July 16th, 2010 11:55 pm

    You are right Cindy.
    Love rides out the storm.

  5. Only the Half of It on July 17th, 2010 11:40 am

    There is simple nothing more powerful than friends and loved ones at any point in life, but most especially during the tough times.

  6. Janet Applebee on July 18th, 2010 8:41 pm

    Oh, Cindy,

    Your words beautifully convey the kind of loving friendships we all long to have–if we’re blessed enough…

    Prayers continue.

  7. Sharon on July 19th, 2010 10:15 am

    Starr’s right, you captured the essence, Cindy. I have been keeping a good thought for your friend and will continue to do so. Her positive attitude and your friendship will carry both of you through this.

  8. Joni Golden on July 19th, 2010 10:28 am

    Cindy, this is beautiful. I have been a member of a small women’s circle for several years, and it has been a wonderful experience.

  9. Jan on July 20th, 2010 5:05 pm

    A blessing to read this. A blessing to witness the love between you and your “sisters.” Yes, sisterhood of the soul is such a gift. I would not know how to live without mine…I do hope your friend will be well and that all of you will be together again soon…Hugs!

    Love the illustration!

  10. Cindy La Ferle on July 20th, 2010 10:47 pm

    Thanks so much, everyone, for your sweet thoughts and comments. My friend is recovering as I write this, and she’s doing remarkably well. She’s an amazing woman. Her family is so grateful for all the prayers and good wishes. Keep ’em coming!

  11. Jenn on July 20th, 2010 11:09 pm

    Cindy, this is so beautiful, soulful and enriching! 🙂 thanks for sharing! hugs, Jenn

  12. Don on July 22nd, 2010 12:03 pm

    Thanks Cindy. We will continue to pray for our friend.
    I, too, am blessed with wonderful sisters and am appreciating them more than ever.

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