Last Saturday, I was in Ireland at my oldest friend’s wedding. She’s not the oldest person I know, but aside from my family, she’s the friend I’ve known the longest. We’ve been friends for 40 years. I had a ball. It had been 20 years and more since I’d met a lot of her family and while I recognised most of them, few of them recognised me. I’d been keeping track of them over the years and had regular updates from Úna about what was going on in their lives, so I had the advantage. I took a perverse pleasure in chatting to them and watching them search frantically for a name to put to the face and the context … and then fail miserably. The excuses? I’d changed my hair and now wore glasses. Not once was time a factor.
This Saturday, I’m in San Francisco for what would have been my best friend’s 50th birthday. We’d been friends for 21 years. I’m catching up with people I met 10 years ago – recognising faces but having a hard time putting a name to them. They’ve been hearing about me over the years from Lori and so now the shoe is on the other foot. I’m the one at the disadvantage. Many tears have been shed and many more are still in the making. It’s a tough time for everyone.
These two women – both of whom have played an important role in my life – have never met. I think sometimes at how segregated my life is. Sometimes, my relationships remind me of a slice of pizza. The segments/chapters of my life are the slices and I’m the plastic piece in the middle that keeps the lid of the box from soaking up the cheese. I have a leg in every slice and yet most of the slices barely touch.
Numerous times in the past week, I’ve had to encapsulate the last 10 or 20 years of my life into a few sentences and in each retelling I find myself marvelling at what a truly blessed life I lead. As someone put it yesterday – I’m living the life that most people dream of.
Today, as we celebrate Lori’s birthday, I’m truly grateful for my pizza.
Note: For a reminder of what the Grateful series is about, check out Grateful 52