Thank you to Beth Hoffman for writing this piece for DevourerofBooks.com. I reviewed Beth’s novel yesterday and, let me tell you, it really made my day when I read it last week. For this post I asked Beth to simply write about what was nearest and dearest to her heart: friendship. Please read to the bottom for giveaway details.
One of the themes in Saving CeeCee Honeycutt is the undeniable power of friendship. True friends see our goodness and flaws, strengths and weaknesses, and they love us for who we are rather than in spite of what we might lack. Throughout my life I’ve valued my friends, and among the most important things I’ve learned is that friendships come in all sorts of surprising ways and shouldn’t be limited by differences in age, background, or race.
The formative years of my childhood were lived on my grandparents’ farm. It was a rural area and there were very few kids to play with, so I was raised among the easy, unhurried ways of older women. From my garden-loving grandma, to the widow who lived up the road and created hand-made paper dolls, to the wise African-American cook who worked for my great aunt Mildred, each one made an indelible impression upon me.
How blessed I was to be exposed to the simple yet oftentimes remarkable words of wisdom that came from interacting with women who had lived through decades that encompassed everything from unexpected joys and triumphs to unspeakable tragedies. Those day-to-day interactions gave me a foundation that has held me up ever since. Never have I heard more profound truths than those that were spoken in my grandmother’s big old kitchen during the hot, humid days of canning season.
Then came the day that I entered first grade. From the moment I took my seat in that tiny classroom, I found myself feeling uncomfortable and awkward. Who were these squealing little people in lace-topped socks and crisp gingham dresses, and what on earth did I have in common with them? I was so accustomed to interacting with older women that the giggling language of girls my own age left me tongue-tied. It took me a long while to adjust to my classmates, and even after I did, I was always glad to return to my grandmother’s kitchen where, as far as I could tell, things just made a whole lot more sense.
When I left my career in interior design and set out to write a novel, it never occurred to me that I would draw so heavily on the simple but rich experiences I had with my grandmother and her friends. But when a little girl named CeeCee arrived in my imagination and her story began to unfold in ways I never would have guessed, the years I spent surrounded by older women gave me the foundation to build upon—those were precisely the kinds of friendships that CeeCee needed during her summer of healing.
An email was forwarded to me not long ago, and as I read it I kept nodding in agreement. I’ve never been able to find out who wrote it, but it sums up so much of what I feel about friendship and I’d like to share it.
Love waxes and wanes.
Colleagues forget favors.
Girlfriends are there no matter how many miles are between them. A girlfriend is never farther away than needing her can reach.
When you walk that lonesome valley and you have to walk it for yourself, your girlfriends will be standing on the rim, cheering for you, praying for you, and waiting with open arms at the valley’s end. Sometimes, they’ll even break the rules and walk beside you. Or, they’ll come in and carry you out.
The world wouldn’t be the same without them, and neither would I.
When we began this adventure called womanhood, we had no idea of the incredible happiness and sorrows that lay ahead. Nor did we know how much we would need each other.
Every day, we need each other still.