I’ve been reflecting on this past weekend of my 35th class reunion. A few months ago I told someone it was my 30th. Somewhere along the line I misplaced five years. We’ve matured, at least we hope, had kids, maybe even grandkids. I and a few other classmates still have fairly young children at home. This select few may or may not be ready for grandkids. They are all my classmates, yet I can’t say I know most of them very well. When shaken, I don’t mix well, sort of like vinegar and oil.
We are only between the ages of 52 and 54. Two days after our reunion that 52-year-old had a birthday. Happy birthday Kevin! Most of us, I would hope still think we’re “spring chickens”, well maybe not spring, but certainly we haven’t moved into the “fall” of our lives, just yet.
A few days before our Reunion I emailed messages back and forth with a classmate trying to figure out how many of our classmates have died? In our Reunion booklet we have listed I think 130 names. Of this group we have lost 13. One died before we even graduated and 12 after, some shortly after graduation and a few in these last 5 years since our last Reunion. Those of us that have talked about it, all agree that is a high number to lose.
I thought of two of these friends especially this weekend. One of them, Billy had sat in the back of a truck along with me and others as we rode in the Homecoming parade five years ago, the other, Bonnie showed up later that night at the reunion. Both were healthy or so we thought on that day.
I grieved the loss of both especially hard. They both had been diagnosed with cancer, I have thus far survived my diagnosis and I had just lost my Mom to cancer shortly before these classmates left this earth.
I was able to see Bonnie from time to time at “events”, hoping and praying daily she’d survive this disease. Billy went too fast after I heard of his diagnosis for me to see him. I sent a card as soon as I found out. I always hoped he saw it before he was gone, to know I was thinking of him.
Billy and I had gone all through grade school together. I remember when his father died and his little sister was born. He always seemed to be smiling. I always got a hug from him when he came back from his home down south and would visit his mom and attend Church with her. We never delved into deep conversation, but I like to think we were friends.
Bonnie and I and one of her younger sisters played softball together one summer when we were in Jr. High. I was horrible at sports, they both excelled. She grew up with a large family; I grew up with a little brother, ten years younger and a step brother who didn’t live with us. We never had brilliant conversations but I like to think we were friends. I know I miss her and Billy.
It has all made me really think about these next five years and wonder, will we all still be here in another five years? Will I still be here?
My husband attended this reunion with me. He and I have been married for just over 29 years now. He’s been my rock during some tough days. He knows some of my classmates, but that really didn’t matter because I’ve said all along he could talk to a wall. I’m pretty sure that had something to do with my attraction to him all those years ago. I’ve been known to be a wall hugger.
I was happy to see we were the first to arrive at the reunion. I could pick a spot and sit and not have to worry about who to stand or sit by or who to approach to talk to. My spot was set and I did have a good time in spite of myself, talking to classmates, some briefly, some a little longer. I’m a nervous talker when someone talks to me. I realize 10 minutes too late I should have shut up.
As my husband and I got ready to leave the reunion, and were saying our goodbyes to the female classmates that were near us, my husband offered them a hug. One sort of knew him, one didn’t really know him at all and one knew him pretty well. When he offered the one who didn’t know him at all a hug, we all laughed as she said sort of surprised, “well yeah!” The one he knows well got a kiss on the cheek that I was able to catch with my camera, yet I think she was a bit surprised, I just smiled and giggled. My heart was smiling at my husband who finds relating to people pretty easy.
As we made our way to the door he asked for a hug from the husband of one of my classmates, who allowed it, if a bit awkwardly and out the door we went.
Through all of this exchange with my husband I smiled and giggled and laughed. None of it surprised me; he likes everyone and dives in head first, while I stand back treading water. As we got in the car laughing I made a comment of him offering a hug to the woman who didn’t know him and the guy who just kind of knows him, (Anyone who knows my husband knows he hugs all the women at Church, the older ones, with the white hair especially) and it was then, after 29 years of marriage that my husband taught me something valuable that he seems to find so very simple, and I just now sort of “got it” he said, “EVERYONE needs a hug.” It was so matter of fact, not hard for him at all. I look back at that day, wondering again will we all be here in 5 years and did I miss an opportunity?
If I knew now that one of us wouldn’t be here would it have been easier for me to hug someone I didn’t hug, would I have hugged someone I did hug a little longer? Would I have stayed a little longer, held a hand tighter or taken a picture with each and every one of them that I knew wouldn’t be here? If I knew for certain that I would be the one that wouldn’t be here in 5 years would I have hugged a little tighter each and every one of them? I hope someday I can hug people as well as I hug the wall, because like my Rock says, “EVERYONE needs a hug”.