Not many people are fortunate enough to attend two high school reunions. In fact, I am aware that many consciously choose not show up at any kind of reunion. I attended school in Racine, Wisconsin through the 7th grade. I will reconnect with friends from that era of my life at the second reunion next month. Two weeks ago I attended my 35 year high school reunion. It wasn’t at all what I expected. There were a few things I was just not prepared for that occurred on that fateful evening in Lubbock’s Depot District.
I was not truly prepared to engage in meaningful conversation with a cancer survivor from my class. At our 30 year reunion, we signed a huge “card” for her posted on the wall of the venue where we gathered. She was unable to attend the 30 since she was still undergoing treatments. Navigating through such a heinous disease is not for sissies. As I listened to her perspective on life, I found myself inspired. I felt immediate remorse for the ridiculous things I complain about. As she described the people that walked with her through that chapter in her life, I found my desire to serve others in crisis reinforced. I was not prepared for that dialogue, because I underestimated the power of one person’s resolve to live their life courageously.
I was not fully prepared for the amount of empathy I would feel for the children of my classmates. Navigating through this crazy world for 20 somethings is not exactly a stroll in the park. I constantly have to remind myself that the world has changed since all of us graduated from high school in 1980. As I listened to the challenges that the children of my classmates are facing, I felt a profound connection. I found myself feeling protective and concerned for each child mentioned. One classmate has a son that was recently hospitalized in a heart hospital. Thankfully he is fine. Even though these “kids” are grown I can’t help but feel huge concern for them as they face all kinds of curve balls in life.
I was not all prepared for the range of emotions that the reunion triggered. I went to have fun. I looked forward to laughing over old times. But as it turned out, several of my closest friends from high school were unable to attend. The reunion therefore was not a time of embellishing old stories. (Which is probably a good thing) Instead I felt a deeper connection to all of my classmates than I ever have before. I realized that I am in the journey of life with them for the long haul. I am here to love them and love their children. And I am here to ride the roller coaster of life with them. And hopefully by the time our next reunion rolls around, we would have lost too much of our memories to even recall the old stories that really don’t need much embellishing!
I was not prepared for the richness of the reunion, but I am so grateful I went. I am eagerly anticipating reunion #2 in just a few weeks!