Victoria Noe

Award-winning Author, Speaker, Activist

Friend Grief and Reunions

[caption id="attachment_896" align="alignleft" width="145"]Reunion-roses Roses at our mass[/caption]

Summer is reunion time. I have friends who are preparing for their high school reunions.

My 45th was last month, and for the first time, I missed it. I helped organize the 6 year reunion (somehow the whole fifth year got away from us), and attended the 10th, 20th, 25th, 30th, 35th and 40th. Honestly, they’re a lot more fun as time goes on.

But at each reunion, we pause to remember classmates who had died. Sometimes the death is very recent; usually there’s been some time since it happened. If it’s someone we’ve lost touch with, it feels more shocking.

My 35th was the most emotional for me. My father – who adored the nuns and moved heaven and earth to send me to that school – had died less than two months earlier. Some of my classmates attended the wake and funeral. All had something nice to say about him. But the other reason was what had happened since the 30th: one of our classmates died on 9/11.

You may remember that I wrote about this in Friend Grief and 9/11: The Forgotten Mourners. But to make a long story short, Carol’s death brought our class closer.

Every five years, as we parted company, we’d always say “we should get together more often”. Like most people, we’d gather again five years later without keeping that promise.

But our class mobilized within a week of 9/11 – starting a Yahoo group to share information about Carol’s memorial service and to discuss a class gift in her memory. We started meeting on an irregular basis – during the holidays, usually. The Yahoo group is still going strong, and thanks to another Carol in the group, we have a page.

I keep up with a lot of them on Facebook or LinkedIn. I make plans with my closest friends whenever I’m in St. Louis, or if they visit Chicago.

But whenever we have our formal reunion, we remember the ones who are gone. Part of the weekend’s activities is a mass (or communion service) in the chapel at our school. At the Offertory, we bring up roses, one for each girl who died.

So if you’re looking forward to – or dreading – a class reunion this summer, take a moment to remember those who can’t attend: the girl whose locker was next to yours, the one with the great laugh, the one with the enviable thick mane of curly hair.

They’re still your classmates. And even if you weren’t in the same cliques, they deserve to be remembered.

And this time when you say “we should get together more often”?

Do it.