Drum Roll Please ... The Winners Of Our Girlfriend Getaway Contest!
What a celebration of female friendship!
Do you have an absolutely amazing best friend? A lot of lucky women do! In late November, The Girlfriend asked its readers to tell us why their BFF is, well, their BFF. And we received thousands of responses. After reviewing the entries, we picked three — as well as an Editor's Choice — as the winners. Abbreviated versions of these four entries are below, as well as abbreviated versions of a few of our other favorites. In the coming weeks and months, we hope to share more of your special salutes to female friendship.
Linda Conner and Leslie Hess, Third Place Winners
In October 2017, Linda Conner was enjoying the Route 91 Harvest festival, a country music event in Las Vegas, when a man went on a shooting rampage, killing 58 people and injuring hundreds more. Out of that tragedy, two women — Conner and fellow survivor Leslie Hess — created something good: a lifelong best friendship. "I believe everything in life happens for a reason," Conner says today.
In her contest entry, Conner explains that the "harrowing night from hell" led to her meeting other survivors — a group of women that became "a family." "That is where I met my bestie, Leslie Hess from Cedar Rapids, Iowa. We became instant friends in a support group and I couldn't believe how much our lives were alike. We could chat all night about everything, and she has been my rock," Conner says.
With their Girlfriend Getaway Contest winnings, the two women — along with four other survivors of the massacre — are traveling to Nashville on Aug. 1 for a girls' weekend. "We are all from different states, but we consider ourselves the Warrior Sisterhood," Conner says.
According to the 50-something mother from California, a lifelong bond has been built that can never be broken.
Shawn Green and Anita Russell, Second Place Winners
Shawn Green and Anita Russell have been best friends for 25 years. "When she was going through a really bad divorce, she had my couch for however long she needed," Green says. "When my daughter suddenly passed, she dropped everything and drove six hours to come be by my side as soon as she could. I’m emotional, she’s logical. But her logic has kept me (and her) out of some crazy situations from age 25 to 50. She visited with my mom while Mom was going through chemo (I had moved four hours away), and checked in on her and even stayed with her when Mom was having one of her bad moments after chemo, and my mom swore her to secrecy to not worry me (but Mom told on herself!). My mom loves her like one of her own."
Green loves Russell like a sister and envisions the pair in their 80s, sipping wine while riding around in their motorized wheelchairs, wreaking havoc in the nursing home — together.
Nicole Logan and Tanya Estenson, Editor's Choice
Nicole Logan and Tanya Estenson became best friends in high school. Together, they've weathered a lot. When Logan's son was 2 weeks old, she was diagnosed with Stage 3 Triple Negative breast cancer. Estenson helped her friend every step of the way — through chemo, radiation and surgeries. Today, she is thriving as a cancer survivor. Later, in August 2017, Estenson's daughter Taryn was killed in a car accident. Estenson donated her organs and maintains a foundation called Taryn's Trail, which teaches others to pay it forward. Logan says her friend was "the best mother" and had devoted her life to Taryn. "Although her heart is broken, she remains an amazing, selfless friend who always puts her family first and never takes time for herself," Logan says.
Tricia Pfeil says that when you're in your 40s and have had your best friend since your 20s, "you know they're in it for the long haul! From the wonderful news of marriage, babies, promotions and new houses, to the heartbreaking news of illness and loss, Nichole has always been and will always be my first phone call. She simply makes all of life's events better." Pfeil's video, above, says it best.
And here are a few of our other favorites:
Audrey Hayworth wrote: "Almost four years ago, Harmony Hobbs reached out to me, Audrey Hayworth, after she realized we were both writers living in the same town (pretty rare for Baton Rouge, Louisiana). We met in a coffee shop and in four hours, we laughed — and cried. We’ve been inseparable ever since. We’ve weathered a lot together — Harmony got sober, I had surgery for skin cancer, both our mothers were diagnosed with cancer, and we both managed care for our children on the autism spectrum. Two years ago, our friendship and partnership became even stronger after our city endured a thousand-year flood. Almost the entire town flooded, devastating more than half of the homes. Because it was the first week of school, all of those children lost their uniforms, school supplies and backpacks. Harmony and I were one of the few whose homes didn’t flood and we focused our recovery efforts on getting school supplies and uniforms for the children who needed it. One of the things we’re the proudest of doing as friends is supplying 5,000 children in the area with new backpacks, uniforms and supplies, so that they could get back into school while their parents rebuilt their homes. It’s become obvious that the older we get ... life can’t be done alone. You need that person to reassure you that, if you die, she will pluck the chin hairs for you before an open casket funeral. Both of us know how fortunate we are to have each other. But no one knows it better than our husbands — they are both relieved their ears get a break from listening to us. We love our husbands and their support, but let’s be clear — we can’t do any of this without our girlfriends!"
Maria McLendon wrote: "We met 28 years ago while avoiding a dodgeball game in our high-school gym class. As rubber balls whizzed past our skinny teenage bodies, we were bonded by our matching looks of disdain and distaste of all sport. As our friendship blossomed and grew, we did find other commonalities, but found more that we were yin-yang complements that fit perfectly together like a hand in a glove. In those high school days, we would sit on each other’s beds in the dark, whispering our thoughts, our fears, our hopes, and our dreams for the future. As we grew, the same feelings and emotions were shared over emails from college, phone calls from various cities across the globe, and texts from our offices. Each shared secret, each shared truth, bonding us closer together, to the point where she is closer to me than any flesh and blood. She knows exactly who I am — the raw, dirty, glaring, grotesque truth of who I am — and she loves me not in spite of this truth, but because of it."
Joyce Harley wrote: "Debbi is my Soror (Delta Sigma Theta), my Sistah (closer than a Sister), and my Girlfriend. We met 45 years ago when she called me at the suggestion of a law school colleague. She wasn't sure if she had 'the right stuff' for law school. We had dinner in Manhattan and clicked instantly. We talked so much that I missed the last train to NJ. Debbi is now an attorney, by the way. We have had each other's back from that night forward. I was the first African American elected to the city council in my town and went on to serve as mayor. Guess who managed my campaign? We both retired comfortably this year and are spending our time and talent running voter registration drives, marching against injustice, helping out at Dress for Success, traveling to spas for treatments, singing in a church choir (Debbi), tap dancing (me), and living life our way. Debbi is my 'Ride or Die' and I am her 'BFF.' On to the next adventure with AARP!"
Cindy Hartzheim wrote: "She holds my hand when I need a touch. She holds my hair when I drink too much. She hands me a tissue when I start to bawl. She passes me tissue from the neighboring stall. She runs interference when creeps get in my space. She applies some fresh makeup when I need a new face. She lets me vent my frustrations when I'm having a fit. She gives me advice when I need to outwit. She critiques my look when I dress like an old maid. She suggests a spa date when I'm feeling decayed. She pours the wine when I start to whine. She buffs on the polish when I fail to shine. She lets out the air when I have a swelled head. She shoos away monsters from under my bed. She is the inspiration for these words that I penned. She is my rock ... she is my Girlfriend."
Kari Ludwick wrote: "SHE IS MY… • Use my phone, he won’t know the number. • Guess who tooted in yoga public announcer. • I’m running late. • Can I borrow your wine? • You are not wearing THAT? • Just one more drink, I promise. • Can you do me a BIG favor? • I ate all of your chocolate. • I brought my laundry. • I might have borrowed that. • Will you feed my cat? • Can you pick me up? • I can’t go by myself. • Oops. I forgot. • Easy on the cake there honey. • I made you cookies! • But this time it will work. • Emergency! We’re gonna need chocolate, wine, and chips! • Where are my keys? • But you’re so good at it. • My dog won’t eat it either. • We won’t get caught. • You are way more prettier than her. • You are NOT fat. • Did I wake you? • I may have had a blonde moment. • Never, ever. OK, if you want to. • Oooo. You have food! • I’m not leaving your couch all weekend. • Not it! • That did not go as planned. • I know, right? • Twinning! • Seriously, I thought it would work. • Road trip! • You got cheese? I'll bring wine! • 5 o'clock somewhere. • Rough day? I'll meet you for a drink. • Pajamas all day — movie binge-watching. • LOL LOL snort snort • Let me try that. • Why did you let me try that? • Before you say I told you so … • I might need your help. • I am definitely gonna need your help. • Next time, stop me! • I owe you big-time. • Mani/pedi time! • I hope you don’t mind … • I had a dream about us last night. • I bought us matching PJs. • Make sure I don’t … • What were you thinking? • OMG OMG OMG • I’m not going without you. • I got this, don’t worry. • Let me help you. • You don’t have to ask. • We’ll get through this. • I’m on my way. • I’m going with you. • You aren’t doing this alone. • Call me. • XXOOXXOO • What would I do without you? • Forever and ever, amen … FRIEND."