An Answer at Last

Not much has changed since 1984.

Of the nine people in the above phot0 with me, I’ve known three of them for 35 years. That’s not a typo, but it sure looks like one.

35 years.

The others in the photo? Well, I haven’t known them as long — only 28 to 32 years.

Heck, there isn’t a woman in that picture that looks older than 30.

Who are these amazing individuals?

Elementary school classmates — three of them dating back to first grade. The rest joining along the way in either fourth, sixth or eighth grade.

We all went to St. Michael School — all for our own reasons (or, I should say, our parents’ reasons). And yet, despite the time that has separated us since eighth grade graduation in June 1984, there’s a bond that holds us together.

I used the word inviduals above, and it couldn’t be a better descriptor. Because, while we were an incredibly tight class, it was our individual spirit and personality that made us that way. In fact, I’ll never remember the words of our president on graduation night, “We are the very special class of 1984 that will never walk this way again.”

I’m sure there were some teachers that were saying, “Thank God” as they heard that line.

There were 30 of us in the class. We lost one classmate in later years to illness. Of the 29 that remain, 10 of us were able to make an impromptu gathering on a recent night to catch up, relive some memories (good and bad) and just be in the company of some amazing people.

As we sat around the table, we took turns recapping what we’ve been doing — essentially since 1984. At the end of our recap, we had to answer one question, “How did St. Michael’s prepare us for the rest of our life?”

It seemed like such an easy question at first, yet none of us could really answer it.

And, as I said earlier, this group contained some amazing individuals. Among them:

— a veteran who put his life on the line for this country and now continues to serve as a policeman, all while maintaining the youthful spirit he had back in 1984;

— another veteran who found so much good in his time and now manages the shipping and receiving operation of one of the world’s largest casinos;

— one of the most amazing spirits you’ll ever meet who did everything from work in a bakery to produce the evening news to now chasing her dream as a filmmaker;

— an author — and mom of four — you can find on Amazon who doesn’t live in this country and tells amazing stories of a life she could write a book about;

— a teacher, coach and father of three who maintains the true spirit of gentleness he’s had forever;

— a mom of three who balances cheerleading, hockey and lacrosse with her ‘real’ job — taking care of end stage cancer patients with the type of care and compassion you’d want your relatives to experience;

— a relatively new mom — who is expecting again — and who has given so much of her life to helping others through her work in the department of children and families;

— another mom (of two kids)  who completed law school after the birth of her first child — and who know works as a managing attorney for a non profit in Rhode Island specialing in housing law;

— a mom of two who returned to her roots, is now engaged, is running the books for her fiance’s business and still has that quality about her that drew everyone to her as a friend 30 years ago.

As I said, an amazing group of people. Yet not a one could truly answer the question in the way it was intended.

Yet, in hindsight, I knew how to answer it. In fact, we all did.

We didn’t have to say anything. The words were a struggle for everyone, but the actions weren’t.

Each one of us that came answered the question. In fact, we answered it by being present. By coming together to remember and reflect. By coming together as friends — friends with bonds so strong they go beyond anything life has thrown us since we thought we were experiencing real drama in 1984.

We stood by each other then. We stand by each other now.

And while we struggled to answer the question that night, the answer was in front of us the entire time.

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