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Has It Really Been 40 Years?

Over the weekend, I attended my 40th class reunion. Technically, it was 41 because Covid forced the postponement of the event originally slated for last September.

I wasn't supposed to attend. This particular weekend is normally an author signing event I love, but a health situation put me in a position, that while I am better, I'm still not where I wanted nor needed to be for this signing event. I made the gut-wrenching decision not to go. I then remembered my class reunion was the same weekend.

Our 20th reunion was a blast. I missed the 30th, and now here we were at 40. How did that happen? I remember high school like it was yesterday, not almost 15,000 yesterdays. Admittedly, I had some trepidation about going. My medical treatment did a number on my body, but I wanted to see people.

Many of my classmates have remained close. One group, the Decatur Divas still hang out regularly. Isn't that both wonderful and amazing? I had moved away and not returned to the area until 2003. Even so, I lived on the opposite side of town. Keeping in touch had been difficult. We graduated in a time without computers in every home and the Internet was still years away from reality. However, in the last 10-15 years, Facebook was how I was able to reconnect with several of my classmates, but nothing compares to seeing them in person. So off I went.

When I stepped into the building, I hesitated, went to pee, took a deep breath, and stepped into the world which built a foundation and gave me a map of who I would become. I didn't make it three feet before the first big hug, and then another, and many more. The Decatur Central Class of 1980 was back!

The "What are you doing now?" was a major conversation but not for comparing who was more successful. We genuinely wanted to know. We're all successful. We're still here. Thirty-seven of our classmates were not there. They couldn't be. Some had left us before even graduating and some were far too recent. The committee honored those who had passed with 8x10s of their high school photo. It was beautiful, moving, and reminded us all again how fleeting and precious life is.

Several from other states traveled to celebrate--one as far away as Utah. One, a former exchange student from Japan, had to cancel his travel plans because of Covid in his home country. Can you imagine an exchange student from 40 years ago who was so much a part of our class, he was willing to pay the cost of such a trip. We missed him.

We were our best selves in 1980, and I don't mean things went downhill from there. I mean at 17 and 18 years old the life before us had no limits. We had everything to gain and nothing to lose. We had a lifetime to create our lifetime, and we did. The life we have may not be the life we thought we'd have, but that's okay. We still celebrate.

We have lines on our faces and a few more inches around our waists. Those lines are the pain and loss, the joy and triumph etched into our memories. We earned them and should wear them proudly. The inches are the parties, the trips, the girls' nights, the boys' nights, the weddings, the reunions, and the evidence of lives well lived. They cushion the bodies of our grandchildren's embrace and remind us we have arrived at the stage in our lives when we know and treasure what is truly important.

Loyal and True DCHS. Loyal and True.

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