by Andrea Puckett

I have always considered a high school reunion to just be an event that happens every 10 years or so and get people together again to see what path life has taken them down. After, I graduated high school, I have always wondered if I would attend high school reunions or would I simply choose to leave the past behind.

Process of Living
The last high school reunion I attended was not in a planned social gathering but was at a funeral. At that funeral, I saw high school friends I always wondered what happened to but some how in the process of living got disconnected from. We found ourselves together again not in a time to celebrate life but a time to mourn our loses and to see we couldn’t take the time we spent away from each other for granted. It took a funeral to get the people who were so connected and involved in each others lives to get together and to consul each other because we shared a past history and because we finally realized when you strip the drama out of high school you are left with people that are fragile and often are scared.

I remember reading the funeral bulletin which listed the accomplishments of my friend and thinking back upon the effect that the person lying in the coffin had on my life. Like my dead friend, I had been a traditional student and I am working towards a higher degree and am starting my life out. My dead friend had just finished taking his Medical Boards and was going to be a licensed and practicing Dentist in January. He was getting married to a girl that he was living with and he was going to start out his life. This strangely mimicked several things I am doing in my own life and made me think about what legacy I would leave if I were to die today. In the bulletin, they called him Dr. but in the end did it matter he was a doctor. We all sat around and remembered how he was as a friend and how he had loved and been loved but none of the other great accomplishments really mattered.

Borrowing Back
About two weeks before he died, a bunch of friends from high school got together and called him and reminded him they were still around and joked about how he needed to return things to them he borrowed back in high school. They did not know it would be the last time they would speak to him. He was the guy I had the biggest crush on and people would joke with me about. My friend who died would take up for me and would defend me but he knew that I liked him. When he died, my fantasy of having a relationship with him died too. A part of my high school memories I had towards the guy you drool after had to just be history.

Three days after we buried my friend who died in the car accident another friend died through committing suicide. Around the holiday season, it hit us hard that we were losing yet another friend. I wasn’t close to him but I did have some close friends that had him over at their homes up until the day he decided to commit suicide and even though I wasn’t close to him I felt bad for his close friends and family because we had shared a part of common history through graduating together. The friends that attended his funeral told me they were going to make a better effort at returning phone calls to friends that call them and were going to not let 10 years go by before reconnecting with others they went to high school with.

Sleeping in the Coffin
No one knew our friend who committed suicide was going through any kind of depression. Our friend had locked that demon so far inside of him no one knew that he was fighting one. When he died, people felt so bad because they felt they should have known and our friend didn’t trust them enough to confide in them to ask for help. These emotions ran high in the group. One friend said he looked like he was sleeping in the coffin and he looked at peace.

When we see our friends in a coffin, it is really strange to think about how we will go on in our daily lives and not have them there. Often, we reach for the phone to call our friend but no one is there. The reality of seeing a friend in a coffin is you get a chance to change the life you are still living and you get a chance to learn how to spend life loving instead of morning regrets.

Young people aren’t supposed to die and you are supposed to be best friends forever when you give your best friend the charm necklace that says so. However, people do die and lose touch. I don’t know if I want to attend a formal high school reunion where people are polished and ready to tell you how great they are. I had a high school reunion where people were real and life was ugly. That funeral really brought out the true selves of people and connected us again. We realized even though people do great things with their lives what counts are the relationships you make and maintain. Also, we realized when we stripped the drama out of life we needed each other to remind us of good times and to help us create a better day out of the ashes. We shared a past but not our current futures. However, we want to be more involved in each others lives and help each other remember we had hope in the future.