Now that I'm getting acclimated to my new iMac, I'm taking some time to reconstruct all my bookmarks for Internet sites. As I looked up my old high school, East High in Memphis, I stopped long enough to peruse the news of my class of 1972. I do believe a fourth of my class has died.
Perhaps I'm exaggerating, but there are certainly a lot of "see obituary" comments on the list of alumni. Ed, who is 8 years older than me, has always been amazed at how many of my classmates have passed away. He says, "Your class has more people dead than my class, and my class went to Vietnam!"
I would expect to see a lot of deaths if I were much older. But this can get depressing. Our class of 1972 is dwindling. We've had murders and suicides and accidents. We've had a lot of cancers. I can't help but think of all those lives cut short, especially my friend Bernie. And here I sit, relatively healthy and happy and so blessed.
For the first time, I scrolled through the 25th reunion pictures, grainy though they were. They weren't captioned, and even though the participants had name tags on, the pictures were never close enough to read them. I recognized for sure about 3 people. Of course, the 25th reunion was in 1997, and since then we've had a few more deaths. I didn't attend that reunion, as the trip from Maine was too much for me to handle the year after we moved up here, financially and job-wise. Maybe I'll make the next one. I'd better at least try, assuming I'm still around.
I do notice, though, that this focus I have on death has accelerated since I turned 50. Until I reviewed the alumnae list today, I had forgotten that there had been so many deaths of people my age. Usually in life, you think, "That's not fair!" when you get the short end of the stick. Yet, you can have the long end of the stick, look around, and still say, "That's not fair!"
"Why me?" doesn't always have to be said with resentment. Sometimes I look at my family, the love that surrounds me, the forgiveness and encouragement that envelop me, and sigh, "Why me?" Then my next thought is to live in the moment, to reach my goals, to hug my spouse and kids and grandkids, to call my mom and sister, and to live the life I've been given, all the while remembering that others were not so fortunate.
Our paths diverged from the moment of graduation, but never so much as when we have divided ourselves into those living here and those living "beyond." God bless the class of 1972.