Lots of emails are flying around among my friends from college, as some of us prepare to attend our 50th reunion in early June. I’m touched by the deep bonds that are still there, even with women I’ve seen only a few times since graduation. A lot of honesty is coming through the emails, without preamble and without assuming we have to re-establish anything about the way we once communicated.
A friend who is coming admits to being a bit down, despite her interesting and successful life. She’s been to three funerals recently, and has other friends grappling with sudden and devastating diagnoses, like ALS. This is not something she thought much about when contemplating her own aging. The depth and irreversible nature of the losses is taking her aback.
I know very well what she is experiencing, having seen and felt things like this among my friendship group as well. I would add to my friend’s litany the death of a dear friend whose excruciating pain — controlled only with heavy doses of morphine that made her hallucinate about people being in the room trying to harm her — robbed her of everything that made her herself. I didn’t know that could happen to someone so strong and vital and clear about who she was. But it did.
There were losses when we were younger that also felt grave and irreversible, but something was different. Perhaps we were different: more resilient, less aware of the finiteness of our own timeline. Perhaps that’s what adds the extra charge, the added poignancy and sense of burden about knowledge seen and not wanted.