Just the other day, the high school classmate who has taken on the task of keeping all the members of our class in touch informed us that a classmate had died. Now, this is not the first death, by any means. As a class that graduated in the 1960s, we had a smattering of classmates lost to combat deaths. And we have also had classmates who disease has over-taken.
This particular death notice did not really affect me much--frankly, I pulled up the wrong face from my mental file. So, when I went to a yearbook to confirm my presumed image, I saw another face there. So much for the accuracy of memory.
I find myself musing on the lives of both high school and college classmates. Most of them I have lost touch with. I have only attended one high school reunion--more on that in a bit--and two college reunions. I confess, the first thing I did at all of these reunions is take furtive glances at the faces of these classmates, and wonder. Those who I had envied most seemed not to have fared so well. And, there were one or two whose now faces did NOT match up with my mental image, nor with their high school or college photos. In fact, at one college reunion, I had someone come up to me and say--Remember me? And I did not. Then, when he told me his name, it was all I could do to refrain from saying--No, you're not.
I was only in the high school from which I graduated for two years--having moved around and attended various schools through my elementary schooling. So, it was with some longing that I watched other students who had grown up together, and been pals since kindergarten. I felt like an outsider. But, I tried to compensate, and threw myself into various activities. I tried out for sports--unsuccessfully. I tried out for the school play--and did win a part...cast as the mother! I was more successful in school chorus--a large enough group that my non-solo voice didn't matter. I can definitely carry a tune, and I am a fairly decent alto. The coup for me was getting admitted to National Honor Society, no mean feat considering my short tenure in high school. So, it was the popular kids that I really wanted to see at the reunion. And, therein, I found vindication. Time had marched all over them, just as it does us all.
College was better, more rewarding, more welcoming. And I find myself thinking about those classmates. The reunions I attended there were not so much occasions for gloating, or grimacing--but more for commiserating. We shared career and family news. We traded maladies. And we just enjoyed, for an afternoon, basking in the glow of remembering a time long ago.
Not long after the last reunion, where I had learned of the serious and life-threatening illnesses two college friends had suffered, I got news that the classmate who had organized the reunion had triple by-pass surgery. Time keeps marching.
There's no great revelation in all this musing. It just occurs to me that though we have to live our lives going forward, we only really understand in reverse. So, the view on the rear mirror lingers. I find myself glancing backwards, almost as much as forwards. But, I wonder--does the caution printed on the mirror apply? Objects in the mirror are closer than they appear? Or should that be further?