This weekend I found myself crumbling apart over the gorgeous renovation and expansion of the sorority house where I lived 3 out of my four college years. Who woulda thunk tough old me would be standing among friends, in tears? Crying for the love we shared way back when and still share today. There is no way to value that marvel, other than what my wet face showed.
There are biological moms and biological sisters. And then there are those who are not. These were those whom I was among on Saturday. These were those who stood me up, hugged me and pushed me through. What I experienced in the late seventies during our college years was demonstrated again this weekend…some 40 years later.
In my world, moms die unexpectedly. Mine, when I was twelve. Four women in our house had moms who died while we were in school. I was literally and figuratively the president of The Dead Moms Club at the sorority house. It was a tight little group who talked among ourselves for therapy and tried not to share too much drama with our 80 housemates. There is nothing worse than a non-stop, talk-about-myself-all-the-time drama queen. Really.nothing.worse!
And then there were these non-biological sisters who sailed seamlessly into my world. Over time, they have shared their lives, their children, their gifts and their love with me in ways that are nearly inexplicable. Somehow, what we learned about one another in the seventies is the glue that binds us together still today.
It’s a blessing, a miracle, a privilege to have these friends. They are indeed sorority sisters; veritable strangers one day and familial the next. But nearly biological sisters too. In that “I-know-all-about-you-and-still-love-you-anyway” kind of way.
But for them, my life would not be as rich and full as it is today. I fear the outcome that might have been without the opportunity to live with 85 women in one big house where growing up, learning manners, getting smarter, and envisioning our futures was encouraged. In many ways this was demanded through national fraternal policies and expectations…making grades, giving back, proper behavior around young men, not licking your knife at the table…all added up to a big advantage for me.
Lacking my own mom, I essentially won the sorority lottery and was instantly blessed with successful, and some demanding, role models. Essentially, they saved my life. I was nurtured, respected and appreciated. As a result, I am giving back. I am confident that the system will stay healthy and support others the way it did me. My gratitude was evident. I was embraced all over again by those who helped make me who I am today.
There is one word: grace, and yet there is another: thankful.
For all the non-biological family out there…it matters! This is my story. Have you told yours?
With love and respect,