When I grabbed my phone off the charger this morning to toss it in my purse and head out the door to work, I glanced at it briefly and discovered my entire screen filled up with facebook messages from high school classmates.
The group had been trying to plan a reunion, so it wasn’t unusual to see these messages on my phone’s screen. But the message this time carried much different news than reunion plans.
Grief is a strange thing. We’ve lost two classmates already to unexpected, early deaths. Other classmates have lost parents and other family members. But now, one of us had lost a child.
It’s probably been ten years since I have seen anyone from my graduating class. I’ve moved around a lot – Kansas, Colorado, Nebraska, Missouri and now Arizona. And since I wasn’t particularly close to anyone in my class, I haven’t made an effort to call or exchange emails over the years. I left high school behind the year I graduated and haven’t really looked back.
My class was small because the town was small. 20 kids. So we all knew each other. And 13 of those 20 kids that all graduated together started Kindergarten together. We shared 13 years in that small school, all in one building. We walked the halls together, decorated our lockers with the latest trend, we ran laps together in gym class, shared blow dyers and suffered through an eccentric science teacher, a grumpy math teacher, and a few others that helped define our high school experience. We played kickball in the 4thgrade, held mock elections together in the 5th, and shoved our desks together in the 6th grade.
Whether we like it our not, we are connected because of this shared experience.
I have not been shy about my high school experience. I wasn’t a fan of most of it, which is why I left it behind without regret. But these people are still connected to me. Facebook has made that physically possible. But emotionally, the connection is a far more intrinsic and mysterious then I can even begin to understand.
Because when I read that one of my classmates lost a child, not only did my jaw drop in disbelief, but my heart caved in grief for her and her family. I am not close friend with her, but she is my classmate, my comrade… we went through the foxhole of Loomis Public School together for 13 years. We are connected, inextricably. I hurt because she is hurting. But not just by virtue of this being a tragedy, but in that we are bound together because of where we are all from.
There are no words to say to comfort in a time like this. I can offer up prayers to the God who created me and save me, the God I love and worship for this family, with the peace of knowing that He is walking beside her in this grief. I am angry at a fallen world that is the cause of car wrecks. I am sad for someone that I do not really know, but am linked to in an unexplained way. Sad that she has to go through the loss of a child so young. I can rail at the unfairness of this tragedy, knowing that “fairness” really has nothing to do with it at all.
And I will do this from afar, probably without her ever knowing. But that’s okay. We are tied in a way I don’t understand, and that is why I do it all in the first place.