“Goodbye? On no, please. Can’t we just go back to page one and start all over again?” – A. A. Milne
I’ve spent the past three days saying goodbye to a friend who was part of my former life. He was woven into my life when I was middle, high school and college me. And although I’ve not seen or heard from him since those days, his passing opened a quiet chamber tucked away in the heart of grown up, married and mother me.
How do we begin making sense of losing friends and loved ones too early while still we are navigating our life’s journeys? Instinctively I reached out to those friends who were part of our fun loving, adventurous group from long ago. Our reconnecting is transforming-as we reminisce through our tears I no longer sit in my current surroundings, instead I’m walking along halls and streets and friend’s homes I’d long since forgotten. My brain flashes with visions of classmates’ faces I’ve not thought of in years and accompanying their familiar images comes warm memories of times spent with my now deceased friend and the closely knit group that defined my existence in the 70’s and early 80’s.
My sleep is interrupted with thoughts of why and how my friend left us. This of course leaves me wishing for an excuse to turn back time and take careful notes about every day spent in his presence. Isn’t this how it happens though…only after we don’t have the chance do we find ourselves wishing for another? Another party where laughter and beer is free-flowing… Another week at the beach where our young selves are invincible and just about ready to embark on our own two feet… Packing into his car and driving the fields and backroads of a neighboring university that shall remain unnamed… Another summer day drifting on the James River, a bunch of kids with probably someplace else we needed to be but chose to take time out for one more float… Another moment to embrace the web of warmth and love our group so naturally wove around ourselves all those years ago.
We didn’t know then just how comforting those memories made then would be to our grown up selves 30+ years later. We were laying the groundwork for the stability we’d need one day, when without warning, our hearts would fracture.
I’ll continue talking with my friends and listening to the music of that time and transport myself to that place in my heart I’d let slip away. Although fractured, my heart swells with fond thoughts of our sunny, glorious youth and the always smiling face of my dear friend Coalter. May you always know peace.
I celebrate you home.