In the time-capsuled crevices of my life are youthful certainties about the people who would forever be a part of my world. Ah, but for the punishing erosion of time, perhaps they would have remained thusly so.
Jump forward too many years to count and I am again at graduation. My students’, my son’s and, in a way, my own. But now I know -perhaps too much.
Amy’s been capturing moments like butterflies, trying to turn memories to permanence through pictures and music. At only 17, she’s already viewing portions of her life through the nostalgic prism of time passed and seeing too many lasts. Last concert, last banquet, last time. Because she articulates it better than the boys, I know she’s feeling a mix of transitional emotions. She’s so ready to let go, move on, grow up. And yet.
There are people to whom she desperately wants to hold on.
Michael is one of them.
I’m glad of that.
Still, she knows there are no guarantees. And I cannot offer her full assurances to the contrary.
Doubtful it occurs to my students that I take attendance. It’s a paperwork requirement of the job.
Simple. But this year, also telling.
I have two students who have had strikingly dissimilar attendance records over the years I’ve known them. One is past perfect; she has come to see me even in unscheduled snippets, has frequently extended an hour of time into two. The other has offered up dozens of my-dog-ate-my-homework reasons to miss our sessions.
This semester, though, my young friends have reversed their courses.
The truant comes early and often, texts me with grade and life updates. The other has been MIA more than ever before, has even “forgotten” to come to our meetings at all. Seriously?
And I am reading into their role reversals.
They are each leaving this slice of their lives behind them, but doing so in divergently different ways. One is hanging on; the other is pulling away.
I have an idea or two about whom among my students may keep in touch when they leave our little campus. My premonitions are exactly the opposite of the way I once would have viewed our partings. I’ll likely hear from the less-likely considered. For awhile, at least. And then, maybe, from no one at all.
I wonder if my students can fully fathom leaving their friends behind, if they can imagine disconnection from people to whom they feel so completely connected. I can only do so, because I’ve already done so.
Over the years, I have let so many people slip from my life, like grains of sand through time’s hourglass. I am sorry for their absence. On the other hand, still alongside me on my sometimes stumbling journey are adult friends who knew me as a child. I am thankful for their presence.
With the passion of youth and the impossible distance of time, it was once easy to think in terms of forever friendships. The notion faded with the years and checks of reality. But now, decades into our relationships, my friends and I, who rarely stray to the sentimental, admittedly acknowledge that since we’ve been friends this long, we probably will be forever.
I can’t tell my students, my son or his friends who among their friends will remain in their lives. I can only offer the evidence of time that some people do. And that sometimes, if you’re both fortunate and determined, there really are always and forevers.