Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Reflections on Our Class Reunion

Dear Red Devil Friends,

On my drive back to Oviedo early Sunday morning, I couldn't stop thinking about our reunion. Since I call myself a writer, I decided to write a little memoir piece to help me understand it better and to see if it was just me or if I were speaking for some of y'all, too.

But I've tried for hours and the thing is just too big and too good for someone like me to capture in words, so I give up. I'm just gonna write this:

The old saying "Absence makes the heart grow fonder" isn't always true. Absence can also make the heart grow distant. It can cut the line of connection between me and the faraway person or people.

So that's why God invented class reunions. They make our hearts fond again. We see our friends in their somewhat altered flesh, then our memories, which over the years had grown rusty and misleading, come back into focus and our hearts grow warm with nostalgia, and with gratitude and relief that we are meeting again, still alive in spite of the many things that could've killed us.

I agree with Lili that we look the best we ever have, because people are most beautiful when they are among a community of friends. (And we certainly look the best we ever will.)

Here's something relevant I stole from a book by Kathleen Norris: A woman tries to reassure her dying mother by saying, "In heaven, everyone we love is there." But her mother replied, "No, in heaven I will love everyone who's there."

This weekend was a little slice of heaven for me.

And Sheryl may be right that the Class of '68 is the best. I haven't been to any other reunions, so I can't be sure. But I can't imagine one more hospitable, more joyful. Maybe some of that is due to Southern hospitality, which is a real thing, not just a stereotype. 

Calling people your "kin" is often mocked by our northern friends, but the word is accurate. It's the correct word. This weekend we were reminded of our kinship in a world dark with division.

We don't all have the same beliefs or values, but we're all on the same parade float, headed in the same direction, and when we get there, we have our Beggs Funeral Home ballpoint pen with phone number included to make things easier for our survivors.

My heart ached to hear about the various tragedies my classmates had suffered. Some were unspeakably horrible. I would have done anything to lessen their pain, and it wouldn't make crap for difference what political party they belonged to.

Allen can correct me if I'm wrong, but about 15 of our classmates didn't come to the reunion because they were dead. We should all keep that in mind when we start getting information about our next reunion (Roy Starling, I'm talking to you!). There'll be plenty of time to miss reunions after we die.  
"How do you spell Pinetta?"

Finally, I did have some regrets this weekend, the main one being that I could have only brief conversations with y'all, and none at all with several of you. That's not right.

And it ended. That's not right, either. It ended quickly, and I looked over all those happy and mostly familiar faces, and I wanted to wade back in there, delay the exit, give everyone a hug or a handshake, and talk and not say goodbye, but I knew there wasn't enough time.

There is never enough time.

I love all of you, and I would say that under oath. I want us all to be happy and healthy and I want to see you all again soon.

Is that too much to ask?

Your kin,
Roy