Witnesses to Our lives

Witnesses to Our Lives

There’s something special that exists with reconnecting with your “old school” friends.  These are friends that go way back to your youth: from grade school, high school, and your twenties.  Despite the fact that it may have been years since you spoke, sometimes when you reconnect it may feel like no time has passed.  It’s like a time capsule.  These people were witnesses to your life before.  If you want to excavate and dust off what once was, spend some time with them.  Your memory will be triggered.

When we were young, it’s easy to stay connected.   People then get engaged, married, then have children.  We receive the invitations to these events and attend the accompanying ceremonies.  But then there are no more official and formal excuses to stay in touch, and we begin to drift apart.  Now that I am nearing 40, the odd time that I may hear from an old friend is when people die.  People who once were in your circle of friends, one by one die.

When I see these old pals, I am transported back to the age that I was when we were emotionally close. It’s as if the fountain of youth that truly exists.  It’s unbelievable that my 20 year high school reunion occurred last year. Internally, I am still 21 years old.

Although there may have been fall outs and mishaps with our friends, the more time passes, there is this realization that life is too short for pettiness.  This is the gift that death gives us.  It’s a reminder that we should live fully.  Life is too precious to harbor anger or resentment, or past dramas.  Comparatively it’s true that we can’t keep everyone in our life at the same capacity, there is something special with old friends.  They remember you when you had your first kiss, crush, or boyfriend.  They remember and were present at graduations, and maybe even know your family pets who have long since been deceased.  They remember.  You don’t have to live out that memory in your head, questioning what was real.  You can discuss it and share reflections together.

I was at a presentation recently given by acclaimed psychiatrist Dr. Irvin Yalom who began reflecting on his life.  He shared particular memories of his 6 friends from medical school who he ditched anatomy lab with and would play bridge.   Several of them died within several months of each other recently. His encouraged Yalom to google two of the remaining crew to see how he could connect.  Google informed him the other two had died.  Yalom had the realization that he was now the holder of all of these specific memories.  He began to question what happens to those memories, when all that were present have now become deceased?  There was no body left to be the vessel to store these experiences.  Would they expire after the last member of the group took his last breath?

The gift of death is the reminder to live.  I do not need another notification of a deceased friend to keep this in the forefront of my brain.  The question becomes how am I living my values?  Can I keep those who were witnesses to my life close at hand?  We currently still are living vessels that store these memories, and have the capacity to share them with each other.  I don’t need to live in the past, but it’s good to know while we are all alive I can visit it when needed.

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