Love & Always…20 Years Later.

“Sometimes, not often enough we reflect upon the good things.  And those thoughts always center around those we love…”

In the wake of our beloved Bear’s fountain takedown, I’ve been bitten by the nostalgia img_0109-1bug.  Reflecting back on a time when bonds were created, life-long friendships were formed and one’s inner strength was revealed.

22 years ago, I pledged a sorority at SUNY Geneseo…and it transformed my inner core forever. There is something to be said for having a common bond, a shared struggle and triumph, to come out stronger on the other side, together.

It transcends pledge classes

It transcends decades.

It transcends hometowns.

Bond.  A word with many meanings, yet one single meaning.  Glued.  Unbreakably woven.  Family.  A promise. Secure. Friendship.  Strong.

And the thing about a bond is…it is never broken.  Days, months, years…decades may pass.  And yet, the moment you are reunited with a sister, that unspoken bond is still intact. Strong. 

While sororities continue to be under a lense of scrutiny at times…my years as a Phi Lamb changed my life forever. I discovered a strength I did not know existed.  I found the ability to endure, to care, to sacrifice, to push myself past any limitations. And for the first time in my life, I found a home that I could count on.  I cherished the times then, and honor them even more now in retrospect.

We celebrated in laughter, we supported each other in tears, and although at times, we walked the line between daring and safety…we ultimately learned that in life, sometimes taking the greatest risks produced the most valiant victories.

Through life, we created memories…memories of hiking 13 Falls, trips to Letchworth,  band practice with Bruce Lee and the Ice Cream Sodies, impromptu dance parties, the front porch, football games (especially the ones we played in), traveling together anywhere…everywhere.  The list goes on and on…

Over the years, many of us stayed just as close, if not even closer as in college. We have become part of each other’s family.  Celebrating weddings, births of many little ones, new jobs, new homes. And..during the painful times, the bond grew even stronger.  Holding tightly to each other through the loss of loved ones, family members and even children.  Praying with each other through divorce, relocating homes, losses of jobs.

“…A sister’s joy is joy to me, each sister’s grief is my own…” phi20lamb20crest_0

The bonds are unbreakably woven together with the thread of life, love, and sisterhood.

Social media has reconnected and reunited so many of us Lambs.  Especially those like myself, that may have drifted away for sometime, while trying our best to navigate this thing called Life.

Here’s what I know for sure:  if any one of us needs the other, we will drop everything in a heartbeat and be there. Period.  Whether that is through a girls’ weekend to get away and recharge. Or meeting for lunch or dinner.  Or even driving distances to meet up after 20 years and climb mountains together.  We are there.  We will  be there.  Period. 

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Lunch at Jines

Our sorority melds every type of personality out there.  We are all so different, yet the same.  Unique in our own right.  There’s a little hardcore in the gentle souls, and a little gentle in the hardcores.  I mean, what other girls do you know who would wear brown and camel?! 🙂

On my best days, I reflect in celebration of the joys Phi Lamb has brought into my life.  Songs.  Smiles.  Cheers.  Laughter.  Energy.  Experiences.  Love of life.

On my worst days, I dig down deep and draw upon that inner Phi Lamb strength.  I close my eyes and visualize the encouragement, the grit, the fight to stick it out.  I see us being there to support each other through the pain.  That’s why I usually hashtag my toughest accomplishments or my most excruciating times with #innerphilamb.

It is a bond engrained in you for life. Shaping your path, enhancing your journey.

At the time, we were just a bunch of college kids…finding our way, enjoying the moments we were in, knowing life would never exist like this ever again. I had totes filled with photo albums from my time in Geneseo.  I was the historian, after all.  A camera?  Yes, it was always on me…back in the days before cell phones.  But most of my photos were destroyed in a flood. Literally heartbroken.   I managed to collect some here and there along the way, thanks to social media.

Two summers ago, we all gathered on the hill in Geneseo for our 50th anniversary reunion.  It was a truly remarkable day. 50 years of women with the same core…this was our home. Our heart.

We traveled back in time with every pledge class we met. Our stories…all had the same underlying theme.  Sisterhood.  Unbreakably woven together.  The hugs, the cheers, the toasts to good times and good people. The opportunity to meet a charter member…it was magical.  Truly magical.

We spent the day reminiscing, laughing, singing…more laughing.  I was literally the epitome of “I’m just so happy to be here!” My face hurt from smiling so much!

We even recreated fun times for those Lambs who could not be there with us!

22 years ago, I was asked to write what Phi Lamb meant to me. (I still have the writing.)  I wrote and read a response that crossed all the “t”s and dotted all the “i”s.  Now…

What Phi Lamb Means to Me:  

A bond of gratitude for those warriors who paved the way before us. It is the friendships that have endured and stood the test of time.   It is your heart swelled to its fullest, and your soul dug into its deepest depths.  It is your courage to fight for what you hold dearest.  It is your strength to overcome without limits.   It is your honest, genuine laughter at its loudest.  And it is your tears cleansing your most painful sorrows.  In your heart, soul, courage, strength, laughter and tears are the women, the warriors of 50 years past and 50 more years to come, intertwining their threads of love and life through you.  For life.  That is what Phi Lamb means to me.  

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1995 (Photo courtesy of NMB)

It’s a hello when we meet you…and a good-bye when we go…”  It truly is “The BEST thing!”

Here’s to nostalgia…
L & A,

Bonfanti (A.K.A Bono) Fall ’94 (Hey!)

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Seniors 1997

4 thoughts on “Love & Always…20 Years Later.

  1. Joan HISCOCK WILEY

    Your writing is beautiful. All the laughter and tears, so well said. I was there for the reunion too. My life will always be influenced the sisters I have had along the way, and still have to this day. Love you all.
    Joan HISCOCK WILEY Class of 1972

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Ellen "Dagon"

    What an absolutely beautiful tribute to our beloved Phi Lamb!!! I, too, am so grateful for the sisterhood. .. the bond of love…that unites us across miles and across generations! The 50th reunion was a testament to our love and our strength…I honestly feel honored to be a part of such an amazing group. How I would love to travel back in time to enjoy those special years…just for a little while. I don’t think I truly realized what an impact my sisters and my being part of this group would have on my life. I love you all…even those of you I haven’t had the opportunity to meet…you are all a part of my being…and I thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much Ellen…it’s amazing (or not, really) that despite the year or experiences, we all have the same feeling. Just goes to show just how powerful life connections are 💜 AIPL

      Like

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