• Michelle Dawn Mooney

This One's for the Girls

Reunion with my college gal pals enjoying some cool treats & air-conditioning on one of the hottest days of the year.

It may be hard to believe, but within an hour of having this picture taken I was sick as a dog in a hotel bathroom. For the record, in no way do I believe my delicious McDonald's hot fudge sundae was to blame. Granted, I did have a variety of indulgent treats that day, but it was a special occasion - the 2nd annual mini-reunion with my best girlfriends from Stockton University (or the Richard Stockton College of New Jersey as it was called back then). Little did I know it would be the best of times and the worst of times all rolled into one - a fitting story to share for National Girlfriends Day.

There were a few possible contributing factors for my sudden onset of illness...the 100+ degree heat index that day in Lancaster, PA; my knack for getting car sick even in parking lots; or the fact that my overly hectic schedule had me feeling a tad run down, making me more susceptible to catching the stomach bug du jour. Regardless of why - my body refused to keep anything down, my head felt like it was going to explode, and even walking was an effort. Of course, it was all happening at the same time we were supposed to be on our way home, which was about three hours away. It was a terrible ending to what had been an amazing day.

After a successful getaway last July, our tight knit group had been looking forward to this year's reunion for months. We only live within a few hours of each other, but with crazy calendars and family obligations it's just hard to get everyone's schedules on board. Still, even when months, if not years go by, when we do get together it's like we're right back in college.

Just as we had so many amazing memories from those years, there were also equally awful situations where we consoled one another through intense course loads, financial stress, or issues with other friends, family, or boyfriends (mostly the latter). We were there to wipe away tears, talk things through, or maybe just hold someone's hair back if they unsuccessfully tried to drown their sorrows with one too many cocktails.

Fast forward (without the cocktails) and here we were with my girls once again ready to hold someone's hair back. In my altered physical state, I could hear them coordinating efforts to get me water, crackers, and "sick" bags as they offered to call my husband while they worked out a plan to get me home as comfortably as possible. I felt terrible - not just physically, but emotionally. This had been such an unbelievable day that I felt I had ruined by forcing everyone to alter the game plan so they could take care of me. I apologized profusely and was quickly corrected and told there was nothing to be sorry for as I felt someone cover me with a blanket, apparently noticing that I now had the chills.

Thankfully, within the hour I was well enough to climb into the back seat of my friends car where I managed to fall asleep for the two and a half hour drive back to our original meeting place. From there it was another hour drive home for me. One friend graciously invited me to stay with her family for the night and when I refused, the other offered to drive me home. Honoring a promise, I texted them to say I made it home. A series of texts followed to see how I was feeling.

It's funny how a horrible situation suddenly took such a beautiful turn. I knew I loved these girls - they were my college besties, but years later I was reminded of just why we became friends in the first place. Yes, they made me laugh till it hurt, we'd have the time of our lives when we went out, and even staying in could be the best time ever, but more importantly - they ALWAYS had my back. They were there in the good times and didn't take off running during the bad.

"Lots of people want to ride with you in the limo, but what you want is someone who will take the bus with you when the limo breaks down." - Oprah Winfrey

Studies have shown that having a girl squad can improve your health by by helping to reduce stress and bad habits, building self-esteem, strengthening your immune system and increasing happiness. Who couldn't use a little more happiness in their life, right? So, on this National Girlfriends Day why not let the members of your inner circle (past or present) know how much they really mean to you? Even if it's been awhile, I'm pretty sure you'll discover true friendship stands the test of time. I may not see my college girls again until next year, but I'm sure when I do it will once again be just like old times - hopefully without the need for saltines and ginger ale. ;)

“The most beautiful discovery true friends make is that they can grow separately without growing apart.” – Elisabeth Foley

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