This morning is the day after.  The party’s over.  We’re heading  home.

My first thought upon awakening  this morning was a simple prayer.  “Thank you Lord for letting me get this far.  Thank you for everything.  Amen.”

And I was SINCERE.

I know how hard the past fifty years have been for me.  I’ve heard stories and witnessed how hard it has been for some of the others.  And, 23 of our class didn’t make it.   For a couple, life got too hard.    We didn’t see that coming.

We hung their photos on the wall and burned a candle in their memory.

It’s our 50th. High School Reunion.  A long time coming. A half century.  A blink of the eye, it seems.

There’s the wrinkles, the worry lines, the frets that come with the trip.  The lost sleep we’ll never talk about.   I don’t know about the tears, the all night vigils.  Some with gray hair, some with no hair at all.  We traveled together, starting in grade school, thinking we knew it all in high school.

There’s still a few who are dying their hair, trying to fool us and we know.  Yes, we know.

I also know about the widows, and the widowers.  We talked about some of the losses, some of the things that are just not explainable unless you’ve been there.

I put my arms around one of my classmates who lost her child.  I wanted her to know that I grieved with her.  Then I confessed to what she and every mother  knows.  If you haven’t lost a child you have no idea.  I have no idea.

There was a whole lot to think about, as I pinned on my name badge, the one with my high school photo and name.  Some of us don’t recognize the person we knew 50 years ago.  Yes, my dear, we all have changed.

So, once again, I say “Lord, thank you for looking after me.  Thank you for protecting me and the rest of my class, those who survived the past fifty years.”  I know there was a time I didn’t have sense enough to get out of the rain.  There were those days I didn’t know how to bundle up against the cold wind in my face.  Back then I was nothing more than a walking, talking….well, I’d rather not admit all my faults here in writing.  I’m sure you know what I’m saying.

Reunions and homecoming are powerful events.  Maybe that’s why some don’t show up, don’t come home again. Every time we have a homecoming, it takes a toll on my mental state.  These things are painful also. Perhaps the others are paying a similar price.

I’ve been to five of these ten year parties.

At the first one, we guys were tall, tough, young, lean and handled our whiskey by the glass.  The girls wore their clothes tight. We stayed out until daybreak, talking, laughing, remembering the past and looking forward to adventures in the tomorrows ahead of us.

Not anymore.  This last one,  there were a few bottles of wine shared amongst friends and we were all headed home by 10:30 last night.

In case you missed it the first time.  Thank you Lord.  Amen.


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