Disclaimer: I’m old. I’m 47 years old. I graduated high school when I turned 17. I’ve not done anything earth shattering in the last 30 years. I have however evolved.
Right now, I’m struggling with some serious health issues. Living with #Sarcoidosis, recently diagnosed with an extensive DVT, and waiting for a CT scan to see if I have or don’t have cancer. I’m dealing with facing my own mortality. I’m not ready to die because I want to be here for my kid. I don’t want to die young like my parents did. It was excruciating being left alone without my parents and having to navigate adulthood with very little support.
Then in the middle of obsessing about my own death, I had a weird moment of reflection — I have been out of high school for thirty damn years. Wow.
In July, we held our virtual 30th year high school reunion. Being on the committee, I wanted everyone to feel welcomed. I wanted my fellow alum to feel they had a space to reconnect to old friends and to find new friends. Mostly I wanted everyone, no matter their rank or shared trauma in high school, to feel seen, heard and loved.
I watched behind the scenes thinking of ways to engage alum and mostly I wanted to socially engineer our online event to make them smile. I figured that life had thrown so much at us, as adults, that we deserved just a small bubble of happiness and joy. We all deserved to smile.
Our virtual reunion was a success, in my humble opinion. It was fun and inclusive. Connections were made. Friendships renewed. It was more than I had hoped for and than I ever expected. What I found so magnificent (for me) is that I started to humanize my classmates in a way that garnered more empathy and due care. They were no longer names ingrained in my traumatic teenage tactile memories. They were Mothers, Fathers, cancer survivors, teachers, Reverends, activists, and for those who were close to me, I realized they were my surrogate family.
My heart was extremely moved by those kind and courageous classmates who decided to share their beautiful personal journeys from high school to now. That’s what touched me the most. I felt Blessed and honored to know their story.
It was wonderful to sit back and read their stories over and over again. These are people I passed by, smiled at, high-fived, and laughed with for four critical years of my youth. … but that was 30 years ago. I was now reading the stories of courageous single Mothers who endured. I was reading the stories of Black American men who were not statistics and used their talents to encourage up and coming young Black Americans to stay the course with their academic journeys. I read about loving and caring daughters who cared for their families and their parents. I read about marriages that had endured were still blossoming with love. Through a server located “god knows where” I was able to enjoy the written transformation, testimonies, and evolution of my dear classmates.
Re-reading their stories and how they navigated their trials and tribulations has given me a bit of hope. It has been a well needed distraction to take me out of my sadness.
May God Bless us all and keep us another thirty years.