I am incredulous, as I type that title. Tonight was my 40 year high school reunion. Forty years since we all graduated from high school and launched into our adult lives. How could that be possible?
Classmate Annette Meador organized this event, reserving space at The River Ranch Resort in Noel, MO, for us to gather. The event room was set up with tables and chairs, a buffet-style dinner, and a cash bar. Huge windows overlooked Elk River as it rolled by.
I was a bit uncertain about attending the reunion. It’s been 20 years since my graduating class last met. What if I didn’t recognize someone? I’m friends on Facebook with quite a few former classmates, but would the social media connections extend to real life?
As I chatted with classmates, I discovered others had similar feelings of apprehension or anxiety. Afterall, 40 years is a long time. The kids who tossed their caps into the air at graduation have journeyed far and wide in life. The seasoned adults who laughed and talked and reminisced tonight have seen their share of joys and triumphs, challenges and hardships. None of us are the same people that we were in 1976.
We’ve grown and shifted and adapted and loved and lost. We’ve had partners and lovers and children and grandchildren and businesses that thrived and failed. A few of us have broken new ground by becoming great-grandparents.
As people flowed around the room, reforming into new groups, smiling in recognition and hugging to re-establish connection, we told our stories and listened intently to each other. All apprehension melted away. There was an easy camaraderie in the room, and acceptance of who we have become, and certainly, nostalgia. I heard many conversations begin with the equivalent of “Do you remember when…”.
In that joyful atmosphere, I could sense the shadows tonight of classmates whose journeys were cut short. As memories were shared, their stories were told too, honoring those bright lights that dimmed too soon.
The reunion was a success, thanks to dedicated classmates who worked hard to bring us together. I enjoyed speaking to everyone and deepening friendships. We all agreed, we must do this again soon, and reach out to those who could not attend tonight, encouraging them to join us.
“The days are long, but the years are short” said Gretchen Rubin.
True words. I want to see my Mac County Class of 1976 again very soon, and learn more about who they are now, before all hope of doing so is gone.