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When I was growing up I spent almost all of my free time with my sister and our best friends, Alex and Kris (who are also sisters). We lived on the same block in the middle of San Francisco. We were a tiny gang, a female version of the Little Rascals. We were always together, always having adventures, and almost always dirty. This was not the era of helicopter parenting. We were free range kids. Our parents encouraged us to explore our Twin Peaks neighborhood as long as we returned home by dinner. So explore we did. Our elderly neighbors turned a blind eye as we traipsed through their backyards, hopping fences to get from one to the next. We pretended to be members of a native tribe, smashing up holly berries with rocks, rolling them in leaves, and “baking” them in the sun. In the forest at the end of our block we discovered old joints and “girly” magazines hidden by some wanderer. We filled my sister’s mattress with water to make a swimming pool and had a blast splashing around until my mother stomped upstairs, having noticed a leak coming through the ceiling below. We drew pictures of boys, taped them onto pillars in my family’s downstairs playroom, and practiced kissing them.

Whatever we did, we did it together. We had each other. And we felt invincible.

As an adult I still feel invincible in the company of my dearest friends. My relationships with strong, spirited, wise, kick-ass women lift me up and put a spring in my step. LIFE, for me, has never been about the job, the hobbies, the travel or the “stuff”. It has always been about the people. My friendships run deep. I’m not great at surface connections. I prefer to skip the pleasantries and dive right into the heart of things. Who are we? What are our dreams? What brings us joy? What tears us down? To me, vulnerability is strength. Leaving behind the facade of invulnerability to make space for a true soul baring is what I value most about my closest friendships.

And so I am incredibly grateful to the small, but fiercely loyal, tribe of women who have stood by my side for four and a half years as my life has been flipped upside down. You are my true soul sisters: you check in often, hold me while I cry, allow me to rage against my circumstances, make me laugh and help me find the courage to keep on pushing through to the other side. My forced periods of isolation during my illness would have been so much lonelier without you. Thank you for never letting me fall through the cracks of your busy lives. You listen without judgement, always loving, always supportive. You lift me up when I am low. You stay by my side until the light comes back in.

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