Oh, my dear blog, so sorry you’ve been so neglected lately.
Nothing personal — just caught up in life.
One of the things that kept me busy was my 40th high school class reunion.
Yep, you read that right.
I graduated in The Year of Our Lord, 1975.
I didn’t plan to attend the reunion because I have traveled to Utah too much lately, and one more trip there didn’t sound like a financially wise idea.
Then, the enthusiasm started building for this momentous occasion, and I regretted not making plans to go.
My brother, Kelly, said he’d go if I’d fly out and be his date, so I bought a ticket and flew out the next day.
“I didn’t really mean it,” he said. “Airline tickets shouldn’t be so easy to buy at the last minute.”
Too bad, Kelly. We’re going.
Some things just can’t be missed.
A date with my brother seemed like one of them.
I’m not going to lie and say I wasn’t nervous to see friends from oh-so-long-ago.
And, it didn’t help that at the last reunion I attended, an old friend greeted me by saying, “Hello Chubby.”
Like. I. Don’t. Have. A. Mirror.
Thank you very much for that self-esteem booster.
Part of me hoped he would be at the 40th reunion — all fat, gray and wrinkled.
But, he showed up– not too fat, unfortunately, but pretty gray and as wrinkled as the rest of us.
My petty grievance about the chubby comment gave way to a lot of fun memories, laughter, and a feeling of connectedness to the people I’d grown up with all those years ago.
My favorite part was watching my brother laugh as he reminisced with old friends.
This brother of mine has had quite a life since high school – not an easy one by any measure.
He’s spent the last 10 years or so in a wheelchair, coping with a life he never planned or wanted, but has miraculous managed not just to endure but also to enjoy.
When one of our friends asked him what happened to him, Kelly spared him the gruesome details of his leg amputation, and simply said, “Oh, Laurie and I both got hit with some challenges. But, we both keep rolling along.”
And, roll along, is what he does.
I looked around at our classmates – many of them quite accomplished in life with college degrees and successful businesses, and I thought — sometimes the measure of a person is not what they’ve achieved on the world stage in terms of academic awards and the accumulation of money and status, but rather, what they’ve endured, what they’ve overcome, and how they’ve blessed the lives of others.
As I surveyed the crowded room, I thought about the private struggles of the many people I knew well at the reunion.
None of them arrived at the reunion unscathed by life.
They all probably came – like I did — with the worry of what others might think of them and how they might compare to everyone else in the room.
But, we all came – bravely owning our own pasts, pains and private victories.
We all slid in with a bruise here or there like a failed marriage, a major health challenge, the loss of a loved one, or any number of challenges.
And, for just a couple hours on a Saturday night, we rewound the clock to a time when we were young and everything ahead looked bright and promising.
We didn’t know then we would face cancer, vascular disease, divorce, death of a companion, or even a tsunami for one of our classmates, but we all got through those things and showed up to tell our tales.
And the end of the night, I talked to Kelly, and his best friend and our classmate, Jay and I said, “It’s amazing what people have been through. Everyone has a story. Everyone at that reunion has survived something hard.”
In his slow, wise way, Jay said, “But, you know, if you have a few good friends, some family, a little faith, and something to look forward, you can get through pretty much anything.”
And like Winnie the Pooh said, “If you weren’t you, then we’d all be a bit less, um… we.”
After 40 years, I was pretty happy with the collective “we” of the great class of 1975.