Recently a friend that I went to both Grammar School and High School with found me through Facebook and she very kindly invited me to a reunion. She said many of the 'girls' had been getting together twice a year for the past few years. She said that in the Summer she has everyone over to her house for a barbecue, and then in the Fall they all meet at a restaurant before the holiday rush begins.
She had emailed me with all the details of when and where, and she also said that they had a tradition of exchanging Christmas ornaments, she said she thought it was a nice idea to have something to trim the tree with that would remind us of old friends and good times. I thought that was so sweet.
So I went with my little ornament tucked under my arm and wondered if I would recognize anyone and if they would recognize me!
I hadn't seen most of these girls in thirty-seven years and some even longer than that!
But I did recognize the twins right away (I went to school with them from fourth grade through high school) and they recognized me too! Whew!
At first there were just a few of us waiting to be seated in the room that was reserved for us, and then everyone else began to arrive.
It was great getting together and catching up on everyone's lives, but the time was too short (only three hours) and we were seated at two different tables so I mostly got to visit with only the girls at my table but it was still wonderful to see them all.
It was amazing to hear about the basketball star now being a teacher in a Catholic Grade School, and the pretty cheerleader became a bartender and then went on to be a train engineer! There were a few nurses, a lawyer, a high school principal, a dental assistant, office managers, a few owned their own businesses, some stay-at-home Moms, a lot of them are sandwiched in between taking care of almost-grown children and elderly parents, a few of us are grandmothers, some have been divorced, some remarried, some are widows, and sadly, some have buried children.
We were saying how hard it was to condense thirty-seven years of our lives into a short conversation, along with recalling old times and old friends. Our 'hostess' Helen had made up name tags for us with our High School graduation pictures, and she brought along the Senior Yearbook, and she also brought our 8th Grade graduation picture (we were babies)!
We would page through the book and point out faces and shout out names asking what happened to this girl and that girl. A few of us would be able to answer that this one had moved to California and that one is in North Carolina now. And some would bring us the sad news of one lost to cancer, another died from complications of Multiple Sclerosis, another died in a car accident, and saddest of all one committed suicide by jumping from the balcony of her apartment building. That broke our hearts.
And I learned many things that I had never known back in high school. I learned that some girls were carrying such heavy burdens in their home lives back then (far beyond what teenagers should have to carry), and that going to school and being with their friends was the highlight of their days, school was a haven for them. They said that their friends became their family, and even though they never unburdened themselves back them, they still felt that just being with their friends was an outlet, and a feeling of security for them. So over the years many of them have kept in touch, they've held each other up through divorces, job losses, financial losses, addictions, sicknesses, and deaths, and even imprisonment. I thought about how these women too had created their own 'village' of love and support. I could easily see the positive impact they had on each other. In listening to their stories, I could see that they found strength and encouragement in each other, I could tell that they upheld each other, and I could see how well they served each other over the years. It was stirring, and moving, and heartening.
I emailed Helen right away that night after I got home to thank her for inviting me and for making all the arrangements, and I told her what a nice time I had (although it was bittersweet, there's a story about another school friend and I'll write about it in another post).
Helen wrote back to tell me that she was happy that I had attended the reunion, and she was happy that I had enjoyed myself, and she said that she is glad that I am back in her life. How sweet is that?!
God Blesses me at every turn!
5 weeks ago