The Vatican Congregation for Catholic Education temporarily lifted a decree that had taken away the…
High school reunion is a reminder of the value of old friends
Don’t laugh, but I think of my high-school days whenever I hear the song from “Grease” that includes the lyrics:
“We go together / Like rama lama lama ka dinga da dinga dong / Remembered forever / As shoo-bop sha wadda wadda yippity boom de boom / Chang chang changitty chang sha-bop / That’s the way it should be.”
There’s really no reason for that. “Grease” predates my high school years and bears no resemblance to my experience at a small, all-girls Catholic school in Manhattan. We tended to listen to the Cranberries, who were popular at the time, more than anything else. But the words seemed to capture the love we have for one another and the desire to stay a part of one another’s lives.
That said, we probably would have articulated our sentiments in full diagrammable sentences, or at least actual SAT vocabulary words. We were trying to remember the words to the song a few of our classmates wrote for our junior ring day, but I don’t think we made it beyond recalling the first stanza. Back then, we didn’t record everything on our phones, because we used the school payphone if we needed to make a call, so I don’t have hopes of finding a recording!
I got the “Grease” earworm after attending my 25th anniversary with about a dozen of the gals from our class. Our school does reunions in five-year increments, and it came as a surprise to most of us that this was our time. We had a lovely afternoon and evening together, catching up a little, trying to gather information about the others who weren’t there, making plans to reach out to more for the 30th reunion and touring a school, Dominican Academy, that looks very different than it once did. Change is good — it seems more functional than when we left it — but also a reminder of our own mortality.
I spend a lot of time admiring the beautiful uniqueness of each of us. One of them looks at others with such intense interest and love. More than one of them is funny in the most comforting of ways. There are lots of mothers in our group, but not all. Sitting around a table, hanging around a science lab, trying to remember what it looked like 25 years ago, it was impossible not to see both joy and heartache on faces.
We’ve lived so much — and separately — and what a blessing to come together again. There were common experiences understood, and the recognition of familiarity and love that remains, despite the separation of years. And rather than a guilty regret that we hadn’t been together forever on this journey of 25 years, there was a renewed gratitude for close friendships and great kindnesses during those formative years together. We were and are blessed. And we laughed together remembering a great deal, and with a deeper understanding and compassion for circumstances that we didn’t fully appreciate back then.
The other thing I found myself unexpectedly thinking about was a trip I made to Wadowice, Poland, a few years ago, just before Pope Francis visited Poland for World Youth Day. Wadowice is the hometown of Pope St. John Paul II. Sitting surrounded by the ice cream cakes John Paul loved in his youth, I found myself crying and thinking about how much of the goodness of this place would be reflected in the whole of his life, how the church and the school and the apartment — now a museum — were so much a part of how history unfolded through him and the courage he would manage to muster through the fruits of the Holy Spirit. We need so much courage today and in the days to come.
Christ was core to my high school experience, in no small part because I saw the devotion for God of Sister Martha, the principal, and Sister Christine, the vice principal at the time. But there was so much more — the dedication of teachers who challenged and loved us. I think I understood the Trinitarian life through our friendships and interactions there. That love endures, and our anniversary brought us deeper into the mystery that is our lives together. There are ties that bind, and we can keep them nourished through the occasional get-together but also in prayer for one another.
Kathryn Jean Lopez is a senior fellow at the National Review Institute and editor-at-large of National Review.