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Warriors are Made of Every Age...

“What they don’t understand about birthdays and what they never tell you is when you’re eleven you’re also ten, and nine, and eight, and seven, and six, and five, and four, and three, and two, and one. And when you wake up on your eleventh birthday you expect to feel eleven but you don’t. You open your eyes and everything’s just like yesterday, only it’s today. And you don’t feel eleven at all. You feel like you’re still ten. And you are- underneath the year that makes you eleven. Like some days you might say something stupid, and that’s the part of you that’s still ten. Or maybe some days you might need to sit on your Mom’s lap because that’s the part of you that’s five. And maybe one day when your all grown up maybe you will need to cry like you’re three and that’s ok...” -excerpted from Sandra Cisneros’ Eleven Mattie shared this essay with me after I’d had my feelings hurt and before we three Warrior Girls celebrated stacked, December, birthdays. She asked if it might fit in a blog. I’d imagined it as a birthday themed blog, which never quite gelled. This essay struck a chord deep within me, having recently touched the face of my thirteen year old self, walking home alone, crying... and yet it didn’t make sense until I was reconnected with an entire family I had known intimately, many of my young ages. At the end of November one of my dearest childhood friends called to announce her destination wedding in my hometown of Santa Fe, NM. I could hardly believe 1) after her long run as a fabulous bachelorette she was tying the knot and 2) I was literally going to be able to walk down my street to witness her walk down the aisle. It was fun to be the “local”; able to give guidance and loving help. I was honored to be a friend through the ages on her most special day. The girls and I were anxiously anticipating all events surrounding Heather and Bryan’s big day and honored to take part! As I was standing awaiting the bridal party at a local favorite, El Farol, Heather’s stepmother, Debbie, walked through the wide, wood doors. We had not seen one another since 1989 so it was no surprise she didn’t recognize me. In the greeting procession my daughters went first, and still, I could tell wires were not connecting our history in her head. When it was my turn to say hello she shook my hand pleasantly until I painted on my olden day smirk and said, “hold up know me...or you did...I’m Dana Viale.”. I felt all my ages back to twelve shuffle like a deck of cards as Debbie’s face filled with emotion. I felt, maybe 8, 10, and 17, as she wrapped me in her ever warm embrace. Debbie pulled back, held me at arm’s length, and let tears slip down her pretty face. For some reason the “me” I am today felt proud she loved the “me” I was back then; and still, the “me” I am now. The emotion of history ran the length of their nuptial visit. We laughed and caught up; epic stories were told of the friendship we shared to my girls’ delighted ears! It was fun to watch Indy and Mattie eat up the dish Debbie and Heather’s ever charming dad, Frank, served them. I suppose it is fun to imagine your fiery, but clearly adult mom, your own age, and even younger. It’s perhaps mental gymnastics, but also oddly comforting to know your mom was, in many ways, your age and...just like you. It’s an epiphany to recognize the woman who has always been just “YOUR MOM” is also an absolute stranger...a secret person... a girl entirely unto herself in another age. I felt my girls examine me a little more closely. It was at Loretto Chapel in Santa Fe I felt all my ages bubble like champagne and overflow. When the doors drew open I saw my childhood partner in crime stand in the light of her wedding day and one simple word was the whisper on my lips: breathtaking. As she stood in the cast of sunlight my big lashes battled fat tears that in triumph escaped down my face. I was so overwhelmed with love, joy, and delight for this woman who shared so many of my ages and was now ready to promise every other age to her groom. When she walked past me the equity of our friendship was revealed. Without words we spoke of all the ages we’d seen and the promise of all that were yet to be. As the night wound down I found myself sad to leave every age and say good bye. I felt nostalgia for the innocent days we all recalled before the ages that were to follow delivered some mighty blows. I gave thanks to the ages. I held gratitude for every age. I believe we should cherish our current age, the accumulation of our ages and every age to follow...I believe there are people we meet who will remain sewn into our ageless DNA. I believe no matter the weeks that go by we are part of another’s historic fabric and they are woven into us seamlessly. I believe even if ages pass, it’ll never change the history that binds, and the love we share, with those special few who witness our every age...and love us...Always!!! xo🍾d 

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