Creating connections through the arts and across cultures

Healing a 40-plus-year-old Heartbreak at my High School Reunion (Alton High School, class of 1967)

The purpose of reunions, most deeply, ought to be to re-unite us not only with those we once knew back in the day, but with ourselves. I experienced this healing balm at the mixer at the Alton Sports Tap, night one of our class of 1967 40th high school reunion.

I heard someone call out a familiar name, and all my innards gave a lurch and squeeze. This was the person who was one of my serious boyfriends, and who, one morning mysteriously and conveniently forgot my existence and erased me from his memory banks.

At the mixer someone at his elbow called me to his attention (if you've ever been to one of these you understand that none of us quite look like the selves we once were and therefore we're flying blind in re-connecting). He joyfully called out my name and seemed as if he couldn't be happier to see me. I wasn't sure I was quite ready for this intensely happy welcome when I still remembered nights of tears, playing sad songs on piano, and having to watch him with the new girlfriend he instantly started squiring around once he jettisoned me. So, in a side-ways maneveur, I moved to the other side of the round table to talk to the woman he eventually married and stayed married to for several decades and had children with.

He talked with some other folks, and I had about decided to leave because the decibel level had raised beyond my tolerance level. As it happened, the two of us stepped outside in the evening heat and quiet to renew our acquaintanceship. We had a good conversation and began to get a feel for the people we'd become over the years. Finally, I felt comfortable enough to say what I really wanted to say.

Very gently I told him, "You really hurt me."
"I did?"
"Yes. You used to meet my bus in the morning. Then, one morning you didn't. Just like that you stopped speaking with me and started going around with a new girlfriend without properly breaking up with me."
"I messed up."
"Yes, you did. You asked about the role of music in my life. Well, for a long period after that, music was my solace and my healing balm."
"I'm glad you felt you could tell me. This is heavy, but in a good way." And, he gave me a little hug.

When I came back home that night, my father was waiting up. "You'll never guess who I saw or what happened tonight," I told my father. When I said the boy/man's name and related the story, my father was amazed and pleased. "After all these years," he said. "I guess there's some consolation in that. Some closure." No one more so than my father could really appreciate what this meant to me, because he had been there first hand and had helped the first stage of my healing...through music.

My father used to bandage my knees when I was a school girl and jumped out of swings. He had an uncanny closeness to both of his daughters, understanding our hurts as well as our triumphs...and that sometimes the triumph was something as ordinary as getting up in the morning and going back to school with a broken heart and a cloud of gossip swirling around me.

In "Gigi," Maurice Chevalier sings Learner and Lowe's "Thank Heaven for Little Girls":

Each time I see a little girl
of 5 or 6 or 7
I can't resist a joyous urge to smile and say,
"thank heaven for little girls
For little girls, get bigger, every day.

I say, "Thank heavens for gentle fathers"--father's who don't like to see their little girls get hurt and are there for them as they grow up and help them grow up into big girls...which seems to never end.

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2 Responses »

  1. Janet, I'm glad you had this gift at your HS reunion. There are so many loose ends in life. And the loose ends tend to get knotted, rather than tied up into pretty bows.

  2. What a lovely Dad for you to have! 🙂

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