(Not for re-print in paper)
Graduation time is upon us and as I made preparations to begin the task of sending out graduation announcements I felt a melancholy mood wash over me. It was one of those milestones in life where you look back and smile at all the good memories. After my son and I "googled" where you put that little piece of onion paper inside the announcement and actually pieced together one complete graduation announcement that would make Emily Post proud, I reached for the address book to begin addressing the outer envelopes. I remember making the next realization some time back, but I must have walked away from it and moved on to happier thoughts...
Most of the people in my address book have slanted lines marking them out of existence. One or two is to be expected, but when most every page is crossed out like a Bingo card, my melancholy mood turned to sadness. The first name I happened onto was Ronnie B. who died in his 40's of a broken heart that could not be mended. Since alphabetizing obviously wasn't a strong suit when I once entered names into my book of friends, next came another dear friend in the Bs, who suffered from chronic pain that must have been intolerable as he took his life one night. He was one of those men that always made you feel like you were such an important part of his life even if he hadn't seen you in a year. Still in the B's..... Skip B. was next, my brother-in-law and pilot who died in a plane crash somewhere deep in the Ozark mountains. His mother Virginia B., who certainly knew the pain of a broken heart, died a few years later. Overwhelmed with the "B" section of my address book, I flipped wildly to the back hoping for better results and happened on to the T's where I ran across Toby, another good friend who found life too painful to bear. All good people cut short in life.
My address book was full of lost friends, lost loves that made me smile when I thought of them and a handful of people who remained strong in my life. It was clear, as I sat there with a stack of 50 announcements, that there are people in my life who need to be added to my book of friends. I began tearing out pages, removing the slash marks and filling the empty spaces with the names of friends and family I should stay in closer contact with. This time around, I listed them in proper alphabetical order with last name first instead of using whatever random method I obviously used once upon a time. My friend David B., thank God, was not listed on the "B" page as he had self entered his name in the "S" section as Stud Muffin. His wife and my dear friend Jan entered her information as the second "S" entry. My address book is much more organized now and full of current addresses of important friends and family in my life, all deserving of an announcement that my son is graduating. While some have fallen off the pages, they still make me smile when I think of them. At the back of the address book, filed after "Z" is a list of names of people who no longer have a physical address, but still have a place in my world.
Wow. Just wow. A superb melange of looking forward with hope and back with melancholia.
Our heart's index cards won't allow a slash mark, as you've so beautifully written.
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