Many years ago -- I cannot remember how many now, it has been so long -- I found a book in a B&N. Bought a copy and laughed so hard I cried. In a couple of places, cried hard until I had to laugh. I told my best friend about it. I went to the web site the author had listed. I saw there was a messageboard. I joined.
The rest is history.
Many of the women (mostly women, a few guys) I have the distinct pleasure of meeting in person. Others I wouldn't know by face if they passed me in the airport, but I know them. Many of us have become very close, like sisters. We have shared laughter, tears, disagreements, complete understandings, passing of parents, siblings, spouses, children...... shared vacations. Triple-dog dares and jelloshots into the nights.
Let me tell you about some of these precious folks: in 2005, when I was debating what the hell to do about a job I was growing to hate, I wrote a note on the messageboard asking for prayers, any constructive advice, any anything that might give me peace of mind. The author herveryownself sent me a personal, private message to remind me that I was going to be fine, that I was in God's hands and so was my situation, and God would not hand me a snake or a stone if I asked for bread. I'll never forget her best words of all to me: "God's asking you to let go of the trinkets in your hands so that you can receive the treasure he has waiting." Prophetess, she was.
The same year, just a few weeks later, after I'd walked from that job with no safety net except the promise that I would be taken care of...... well, two of those precious women made it possible for me to do a getaway weekend to THE big event in Jackson. I needed that weekend more than you could ever know. I needed the time with my girlfriends, to let the world fail to exist for a few short days.
They offered me support and encouragement the next year when I took steps make my life better by finally divesting myself of the excess physical weight I'd carried for years. And they celebrated with me when I lost over half my body weight 3 years later.
And just 2 years ago, they held my hand in wordless vigil over seven agonizing weeks as I waited to see whether or not a dark unknown spot was just a void in film, or something worse. They prayed, they listened silently as I fretted and worked myself into a frenzy and rejoiced heartily with me when nothing was there. Nothing at all.
Book clubs are great. They become friends and they share their lives but I don't know many "book clubs" that have this same deep reach. I may be wrong, but I have yet to see it.
Thank you to my friends Kelly Parker and Tammi Cooper for reminding me of all the good things from that "book club" tonight!