Childhood friends are food for the soul

Sometimes you don’t know how much you need something until you get it.  I didn’t know how much I needed what happened last week, until it did.

The occasion was not a good one. After a courageous six year battle, one of our classmates had succumbed to cancer. A flurry of text messages and phone calls followed, passing on the sad news and funeral arrangements. This classmate had been the steady eddie of the class, cowboy tough and unflappable with his dry sense of humor to the end.

Eight of us from our small town graduation class were able to make the out of town funeral, some travelling long distances to pay respects. We’re all at retirement age now, and some of us had not seen each other for years. It was a melancholy gathering….until we started recounting the stories we shared while growing up together.

We were there for each other for a lot of firsts in our lives. We were there for the special occasions and life affirming events as we found our ways in the world. It was good to be around each other again.

Following the service we visited for some time in the church parking lot, and then we decided together to drive back to my home in Cheyenne to continue what had become a celebration of a life well lived.

Over the course of a few hours we talked and laughed at the crazy, dumb, and mostly fun escapades we had shared growing up. We argued about who got caught, and who got away with it, and marveled that we had survived  it…together. As we joshed, I could see the same looks on their faces that were there when we were kids. 

As we reviewed yearbooks and embellished our tales, all of us could feel the wry smile and chuckle of our departed buddy. We all knew he was with us and approved of our banter. We also knew he was pleased we were not morbid, and that we were together.

With reluctance, we went our separate ways with promises to stay in touch better. I think we will, because we all got a much needed lift from being together. Everyone left with a smile on their face and a little more spring in their step. 

I talked and laughed so much that the next day my voice was hoarse. Boy, I needed that.

During this year of COVID-19 we have been justifiably focused on social distancing, wearing masks, and staying away from large gatherings. While I hate the reason for our get together last week, I am delighted that it happened. It has been a week now, but I still find myself smiling at thoughts of the get together, the stories, and the feeling of being together with life long companions, knowing we will always have each other’s backs. It just felt good and right. It was good for my soul.