I sat on the porch overlooking a beautiful mountain lake on a summer day, enjoying a cup of tea with my Mom. Older than me, mother of two, experienced and wise. "Get yourself some girlfriends," she advised, "You are going to need girlfriends. Go places with them, do things with them."

What a funny piece of advice, I thought. Hadn't I just gotten married? Hadn't I just joined the couple-world? I was a married woman, for goodness sake, not a young girl who needed girlfriends.

But I listened to my Mom and I got back in touch with my old girlfriends of years long gone.

As the years tumbled by, one after another, gradually I came to understand that Mom knew what she was talking about.

Here is what I know about them:

Girlfriends bring casseroles and scrub your bathroom when you are sick.

Girlfriends keep your children and keep your secrets.

Girlfriends give advice when you ask for it. Sometimes you take it, sometimes you don't.

Girlfriends don't always tell you that you're right, but they're usually honest.

Girlfriends still love you, even when they don't agree with your choices.

Girlfriends might send you a birthday card, but they might not.

It does not matter in the least.

Girlfriends laugh with you, and you don't need canned jokes to start the laughter.

Girlfriends pull you out of jams.

Girlfriends don't keep a calendar that lets them know who hosted the other last.

Girlfriends will give a party for your son or daughter when they get married or have a baby, in whichever order that comes!

And girlfriends are there for you, in an instant and truly, when the hard times come.

Girlfriends listen when you lose a job or a husband.

Girlfriends listen when your children break your heart.

Girlfriends listen when your parents minds and bodies fail.

My girlfriends bless my life.

Once we were young, with no idea of the incredible joys or the incredible sorrows that lay ahead.

Nor did we know how much we would need each other