Long Awaited Friendship

Several months ago I was contacted via Facebook about my 50th high school class reunion. Now I can certainly go into a diatribe about how quickly time flies and how it is impossible to be this old, but I won’t. By the way, I was the youngest member of the class just in case you were wondering.

My high school days were not particularly joy-filled. I grew up in Lawrence, Massachusetts and before entering high school; I was very smart, pretty, popular and frankly quite amazing. We moved from Lawrence to Methuen and as a freshman at Tenney Memorial High School, I was completely out of my comfort zone and became insecure, unpopular, and not very smart. To illustrate my unhappiness, let me share with you that when I entered high school I weighed 94 pounds and when I graduated, I weighed 152 pounds. Can you say miserable???

So when I realized that Tenney High School was having this special reunion I was not particularly sure I wanted to attend. However, everyone I love besides my husband still lives in the area –so that was a good reason to go back to Methuen and attend. Plus I did have a few friends I would like to see like Theo, Ginny, Valerie and Cheryl.

My sister told me I should attend for one very important reason. She said, “You look really good for your age, you should go and show the men what they missed out on.” Those of you who know my sister Chris must be laughing hysterically. Well that was not exactly a driving force. But maybe it would be fun.

The committee had been working hard to organize this event. Dan, Sarina Patricia and Anne were names that I remembered. If my fading memory served me, they were all very nice. No, I wasn’t particularly close to them, but certainly I had no animosity. Attending could be fun.

As luck would have it, my niece’s wedding was 4 weeks before the reunion & it was being held in Boston. Now one might think that the timing would be ideal. No shot. There is no way, that I could convince WJJ to leave Hawaii and spend 6 weeks in Boston. So unfortunately, I decided that I was not going to go to my class reunion.

I was somewhat disappointed. And as the “reunion chatter” continued, I was eager to hear more about the activities. Anne was a driving force in encouraging all to attend. During the process, I learned a lot about Anne. She now lived in Florida. Her husband Dick had passed away from Cancer a couple of years ago. From all the Facebook posts, I discovered that they had a remarkable relationship that was filled with smiles, fun, laughter and lots of love. I also learned that Anne had achieved professional success. And I’ll be darned; Anne and I had the exact same political views. Part of me wonders why we never became friends. But that was a long time ago, and I’m sure we were both very different.

I became more disappointed that I had chosen not to attend the reunion. That would have been a perfect time to connect & reconnect with everyone especially Anne.

Shortly before the reunion, Anne announced on her closed Facebook page, that she would not be attending the Tenney High School 50th class reunion. She shared that she had Cancer and the trip would be much too difficult. Obviously, we were all shocked. There had not been one indication that she was ill. For the next few months, Anne’s post continued to be upbeat while she “talked politics”, talked about her husband, shared photos and briefly updated us on her health.

A few days ago, Anne shared that her Cancer has spread very quickly. As she said, “It’s everywhere.” Hospice has been brought in and perhaps she and Dick will be spending Christmas together.

So one would think that this is a devastatingly sad story. But it’s not. I’ve never spoken to Anne personally. All our correspondence has been through Facebook and Private Messaging. Anne is smart, witty, caring and loving. Although it’s only been months, I feel like I have had a long-standing friendship with this great lady.

Anne continues to be a ray of sunshine. Instead of feeling resentment and pity for herself, she embraces the fact that she will soon be back with the man she has loved–no, the man she adores. Soon she will be in Dick’s arms –which is where she wants to be.

There is no anger in Anne. She has handled Dick’s death and her illness with grace and elegance. And now, there is a sense of peace and perhaps even joy. While she has continued to breathe (with difficulty) each day and even on occasion to smile, laugh and enjoy life, it seems to me the day Dick died –he took Anne’s heart with him. Her body has been on this earth, but her Heart and Soul have been with Dick.

Soon she will join him. Soon he will wrap his arms around his beautiful wife. Soon they will be complete again. And unfortunately, soon, we will loose a remarkable woman. No, I didn’t know Anne in high school and that makes me sad. But in the last six months, I have learned to respect and “yes” love this woman for all that she represents.

More than likely, I will not have an opportunity to chat with Anne. That’s unfortunate. But I can assure you, that sometime in the future Anne, Dick, Walter and I will have our very special “reunion”. And it will be like “old times” where we talk about high school and Bea’s Sandwich Shop and what it felt like growing up in the Merrimack Valley.

In the meantime, Anne relax, close your eyes and know that soon Dick will welcome you with that same smile, warm embrace and tender kiss that you know so well. And finally Anne, thank you for sharing your journey and thank you for being my friend.

#reunion #dying #love #friends

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