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Monday, August 9, 2010

Reunion of the Heart

Re-union n. 1. the act of uniting again. 2. the state of being united again. 3. a gathering of relatives, friends, or associates at regular intervals or after separation: a family reunion.
Teen friends 1958

Meeting in 10th grade through our church youth group, Phyllis and I became best friends fast. I remember fun-filled youth events, slumber parties, crazy skits, and double dates. I have many photos of those times - our teenaged selves stare out from an old scrapbook, dressed in strapless, pouffy formals of the era, complete with corsages, dated hairdos, nervous young men at our sides. What fun we had!
Senior Ball 1959

During our Senior year - between changing boyfriends, borrowing each other’s belongings, catty little notes and snide remarks - a distance grew between us. One of her notes cut me to the quick and with bitterness I headed off to college taking my chances with an unknown roommate, rather than room with her. We put a “surface patch” on our friendship, joining the same sorority and living in the same house with many other girls. Although polite and respectful to one another, we were never close again.
Slumber Party 1959

Years later, as I sorted through old mementos in the family attic, I came across the note that Phyllis had written. Reading it again, hot tears ran down my face - not from anger, but from deep remorse. We had been so different, she and I - she so full of life, outgoing, bold, a risk-taker in many ways; I was reserved, shy, introspective and highly sensitive. We had been drawn together because of our differences. Her words hit home, her criticism totally justified. Ashamed and sad, I realized that we both had played a part in our estrangement and it no longer mattered. I wanted so badly to talk with her, but how does one mend such a rift after so many years and across so many miles?

Talkin' on the phone - 1959

After college, we’d gone our separate ways - to careers, marriages and far-flung locations. Phyllis moved to California to teach and, with another sorority sister, began a “round robin” letter-writing campaign every few years to help us all keep in touch. She married, moved to Alaska, taught in the bush for many years, and had two daughters before settling in Anchorage. I also married and taught school, moved to Colorado, Idaho, Texas, Idaho and finally settled in Washington state. Each time I read her letters, I thought of reconnecting with her - I just didn’t know how.
Senior Ball 1959

In 2000, a sorority reunion was planned. They’d had one other, but I’d been unable to attend. Looking forward to seeing everyone again, I resolved to make amends. I still did not know how - only that I must. When we were finally face-to-face again, the years slipped away. As we visited, I told her how much I had enjoyed her friendship and how sorry I was that we’d hurt each other. We’d long since forgotten what the tiff was all about, and began to simply enjoy each other’s company again. We now exchange Christmas cards and e-mails, have enjoyed two more reunions and have kept in touch. Next summer, many of us will meet for a 45th reunion and I anticipate it with no misgivings at all. Phyllis and I have much catching up to do!
Sorority Reunion

What pain we humans inflict on each other - most of it comes back to us. We cannot undo what we’ve said and done - we can only ask forgiveness and forgive in return. Life goes forward from there.

Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger,
 brawling and slander, along with every form of malice.
Be kind and compassionate to one another,
 forgiving each other,
just as in Christ God forgave you.
Ephesians 4:31-32

2 comments:

  1. So true! And that's such a good verse to remember. I'm really glad you're friends again. What a beautiful story.

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  2. Me too! It was such a silly, petty, teenage thing - but then that's how we learn, isn't it? Life is much too short for holding grudges or letting fences go unmended. Thanks for visiting & commenting.

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