Sisterfriends: The Ties That Bind Go Beyond Blood Lines

January 16, 2012

Demetra (l) and Taj laughing on the beach Photographer: Noa Mohlabane

They may not have a biological connection, but sisterfriends have ties that bind.  Ask Demetra Gayle.  This thriving 62-years-of-age African-American woman boasts two sisterfriends – Colette, six years younger, and Taj, two years older.

“They are ‘there’ for me and I’m ‘there’ for them, no matter what!”  Demetra explains.  “We’re as close as some blood-related sisters – and probably closer than many who grew up in the same family.”

Demetra and her sisterfriends met in a community meeting for African-American Healers, focused around a healing circle for internalized racism, which they developed and participated in for 10 years.  Even though it’s been eight years since the group disbanded, the three sisters are bonded for life!

What’s the difference between friends and sisterfriends?  According to Demetra, it’s the level of commitment.  It’s in the way one even spells the word:  Sisterfriends vs. sister  friends.  It’s THAT connected.

“When one of us gets really sick or is in need, we don’t just say, ‘I hope you feel better,’ we go and stay until they do,” she says. “When Taj’s 16-year-old daughter passed in a tragic accident, I spent the night with her and her ex-husband,” says Demetra.  “We’ve been through deaths, births, break-ups and adventures.”

“We support each other’s dreams,” Demetra continues. “When I went to Europe to attend a four-month leather school , Taj traveled to stay with me for three weeks.  She walked with me to the monastery where my classes were held, had coffee with me at a local café, and was there for dinner when I came home.”

Demetra (l) and Collette look at an email from Collette's editor Photographer: Noa Mohlabane

Similarly, Demetra supports Collette, who is currently in the throes of rewriting her novel.  “Sometimes, I will just go over to her place and have a sleep-over. I do my thing, and she does hers. We just spend time together.  I may be knitting something or sewing some leather thing, and she’ll be writing on her computer. At my wedding, earlier this year, both had a big role in the ceremony, and both were right there to help me dress and get ready.”

Sisterfriends can talk about anything.  “We aren’t afraid to ask, ‘I need an unenlightened moment or an endarkenment day!!’” says Demetra. “That is when you need to talk really badly about someone who has done something terrible, or when one of us has been really hurt by someone, or when we just have those little vicious moments when we want to talk badly about someone’s choice of shoes or lipstick…we don’t do that often, honest! We all strive to live out loud, with honesty and integrity, and a commitment to community service and connection.  And to realness.”

Recently, Taj threw a unique birthday surprise party for – herself!  She sent an email to friends, letting them know where she’d be celebrating on three different days and hoped they’d join her – no rsvps please.  Her sisterfriends

Sisterfriend moment (l to r) Taj, Collette & Demetra

did!  They met her at a Moroccan restaurant for dinner, a diner for breakfast, and a swimming pool later that afternoon.  “Whoever showed, showed, and we had so much fun!” says Demetra.

Adventure seems to be a key ingredient for sisterfriends.  On recent Sundays, they set out on a whale-watching and sailing trip.  And, Demetra is currently talking Taj into joining her on a trip to Colorado.

“I want to go visit my brother friend, Chris, a ‘cowboy white guy’ who I met at goldsmithing school.  He has a jewelry studio in the Rockies that’s so remote there are bears in the backyard.  When you go, you need to stay awhile to make it worth the trip cause he has to drive four hours to pick us up at the airport or train,” says Demetra.  “We’ll make jewelry, read books, write, and just hang out.”

Hanging out may be what sisterfriends do best.  Imagine, no agenda, no deadlines, no reservations, and no preconceived notion, except to be there for each other – mind, body and Spirit!

What a refreshing way to share time.

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