I heard a lot of the term “next time” these past few days. I know that we all have priorities and issues that help us make decisions in our lives of what we will do, want to do, can’t do or choose not to do. I just hope the decisions made are the opportunities they really wanted or needed to do with no other option wanted at that particular second of choice, because sometimes we, as some of us know far better than others, don’t get that “next time”.
I attended my Class reunion this weekend, which included walking in a parade, in the rain. The 9 of us that participated stood in the parking lot of our old high school in pouring rain, waiting for the start of the parade. Most of us were soaked as we “stepped off”. I and the others laughed, smiled and even giggled most of that journey, soaked and chilly at the start and then as that beautiful sunshine hit us, stripping off jackets and laying down the umbrellas that did little to keep us dry.
As we ended the parade back in the parking lot where we started, five of us made a decision to go and visit a classmate, who was severely injured in 1987, around a year before this class celebrated its 10th reunion. We drove out to her mother’s house, with the top down on the convertible we all were riding in, the men in the front bucket seats and we three women squeezed together in the backseat, hip to hip, thigh to thigh, with a little white dog on one of our laps, all of us chilled to the bone. This October day, driving 55, with wet hair and wet pants from the rain, and we were laughing. It was a good day to be alive; it was a good day to live life in the moment.
The situation with our classmate is far from good. It is difficult to see her like this. I admit that when the suggestion was made to visit, I at first wasn’t sure I wanted to go, but as I heard one friend say, “You know, yeah” and another say, “let’s get some perspective”, I knew I would go. As one who battled cancer, badly, I knew how hard it was for some to think about visiting me and that hurt.
I want no regrets in this life. I want to do what I can, when I can, because the “next time” might not be there. I’m glad I went, but it was not easy. It was made easier in a group. This group of rag tags. I said later if someone had asked me 20 years ago if I could imagine me on this wet, cold day, in a convertible, with these 4 particular people, I would have said, “no possible way!” This group, in just a slight resemblance maybe to “The Breakfast Club”, we could talk to each other, without having to think of a way to talk to our classmate without requiring an answer, we would not hear from her.
I do admire this group of classmates, all on their own journeys, some very different than mine, that made this decision to bring a little joy to someone else’s life, on a day we were all celebrating what our classmate could not, our 35th reunion. I hope she knew we were there, I hope it brought her joy. I can only guess that it did. What I do know is that the five of us that made that decision, standing in the parking lot, wet and chilled to the bone brought joy to our classmate’s mother and our hearts were touched by her love for her daughter. It did bring perspective.
I watched as one, a woman full of compassion, walked to our classmate’s side, and as we all stood chatting, she kept her hand on her arm, touching and rubbing her arm gently. I saw the tears well up in another classmate’s eyes as he recalled the last time he was in this house was to drop her off after they had been on a date. I watched as her mother and niece took care of her needs without question as we all stood in a circle, talking.
We didn’t stay long, but long enough to affect each of us that had not seen our classmate since graduating high school, she the Valedictorian of our class. As we rode back to the parking lot, the top had been put up, yet the windows were still down, and we were all still chilled and certainly still wet. We all reflected for a moment on our classmate and her Mom, and the journey they are on.
I don’t believe any of us had regrets this day, for walking in a parade in the rain, with classmates we may or may not have had anything in common with all those years ago. We may or may not have seen some of them for years, yet we had this in common today, we had new memories etched on our hearts of a day of laughter, a day of reflection, a day of some heartache visiting an old friend. We didn’t wait for the “next time”. Our classmate, like many of us, has grayed. She has aged as we have, but she did not get her, “next time”. Life is full of surprises, some good and some not so good, don’t wait for the “next time.”