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Good friends enrich our lives immeasurably

Whenever I read an article, especially one that is research-based, whose outcome is as plain as the nose on my face, my one reaction is duh!

"Happily married couples live longer lives." Duh. "Taking a vacation from work results in greater productivity." Duh.

I have been doing my own research for the better part of 23 years. "Having a close circle of friends improves the quality of one's life." Double duh!

The year was 1986. I had moved back to Buffalo, had a new job, a new home, a new husband and no close girlfriends to speak of. One of the downsides of going away to college is that all of your friends are displaced when the time comes to get a job and get on with the process of living an adult life.

I must have looked quite pathetic because these girls took pity on me and invited me in. It has turned out to be the best party invitation I ever got.

I have always said that having a truly wonderful group of friends is like having free therapy. Our therapy sessions have been occurring every other Wednesday night for more than 20 years. These encounters occur at someone's house, where we do crafts, eat munchies and talk. We sometimes refer to ourselves as Craft Club, but our preferred title is Stitch and B**** or S&B for short. It is an appropriate title because it involves equal parts crafting and talking.

We have a tradition in S&B. Whenever someone has good news to share, she must bring a box of candy to the club. It is left up to the discretion of the good news sharer, but our favorite always bears a Watson's chocolates label. The box secretly ends up in the middle of the table followed by inquisitive looks until the news is revealed. One of the best parts of having great news is the ability to share it at the club.

We have shared countless highs and lows with each other. From marriages, births, graduations and job promotions to illnesses, deaths and various forms of loss. As cliched as it sounds, we truly share in each other's joys and support each other's sorrows.

When one of us has lost a family member, the girls know exactly what to do. Calls are made, plans put in action and they are there. I will never forget the sight of their vans pulling into my driveway when I experienced a death in my family. Although I had been a part of this ritual on the other side, I never understood how supported I would feel when I was in need.

We have also shared the mundane advice: how to help a teething baby sleep, where to go for the best prices, how to navigate the college hunt process, etc. Being the baby in the group, I have truly benefited from these women blazing many-a-trail before me.

There are friends and then there are your underwear friends. You know what I mean. Friends you can walk around in your underwear with and not care. Men may not understand this theory, but women definitely do. Being with these friends is like being in a perpetual state of Las Vegas; what you see and do is sacred and not to be shared.

I have news that I plan to celebrate at our next meeting. The good news is that I am blessed to have these eight women in my life whom I am proud to call my friends. I guess I need to make a trip to Watson's to pick up some sponge candy. Duh!

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