Every parting is a form of death, as every reunion is a type of heaven. ~Tryon Edwards This year on my vacation I’ll be traveling to my home state of Michigan to visit my ailing father, to share with my husband the place where I grew up and to attend my 35 th high school reunion. I’m keenly aware that there are a number other reunions, anniversaries and decade birthday celebrations taking place right near that same time. These outwardly non-religious events are important for so many reasons. They are rights of passage for all of us, milestones, even when we are merely witnesses to the event. In the case of high school reunions and depending on the particular decade, we are establishing, or reestablishing identity.
We renew long ago friendships, remind ourselves who we were, and take stock of who we’ve become. I’ve been helping a classmate of mine who has done the majority of the arrangements. She has found is that even though a number of people are excited to return to their hometown to gather together, there are many who are refusing to attend, who won’t respond to communications and who are reluctant to share the reasons why. In this 35 th year after my class has graduated, most of us have grown beyond a concern to impress people. And yet we have arrived at a time in life when there is a personal anxiety in many about our level of success, happiness or wealth.
Personally, I have noticed my own feelings arising as to how I’ve done in comparison to my classmates. I have even found myself comparing my life to that of my parents. When I leave the gathering, I’ll very likely not be meeting with these people together again. I’m hoping I’ll stay connected with many of them. Facebook has already allowed that to happen, has allowed me to see how many wonderful friends I had in high school with whom I still have much in common, with whom I share the same sense of humor. But not all reunions are bound to be that happy. It is very likely that I won’t see my dad again where he will know me or be able to converse with me.
A few years ago one of my high school friends, Mary Ellen Geist, quit her career as New York news anchor to return home and care for her father who had Alzheimer’s. She even wrote a book about it. When talking about her change of priorities and her selfunderstanding she shared, “ These days, it is the measure of the heart that matters most to me. I can only hope that my heart will be as large as my father’s when I begin to leave this world. ” My heart is open wide for my visit. I am happy I will see you all when I return. Blessings on all of your reunions, your anniversaries and your summer moments.