After a few weeks, while taking a break from the chemotherapy and allowing her hair to grow, she agreed to meet with a few of us old college buddies. Before long we were corresponding often. She attended the “Ridin’ Around” book launch as an honored guest. A few weeks later we decided to take a day trip and were having the time of our lives.
While riding along in my midlife crisis Camaro z28 with this dear college friend, we talked and joked and laughed despite having no communication for the previous twenty-five years. She could make me laugh like no other person on earth. Oh, for a transcript of all the quips and jokes we made that day in the car! It was spontaneous, natural, and really funny. However, no recording was necessary for one thing she said. It will forever be a meaningful moment in my memory. Motoring down the highway Nanci turned to me and stated:
“Elaine, I didn’t know if we’d have anything to talk about because I’m not the same person I was back when we were in college. But, you know, I found out, I AM the same person!”
Tears came to my eyes and if I hadn’t been driving, I would have hugged her. Not too firmly though-the cancer had ravaged her body to the point of fragility. We took full advantage of the next few months, until that terrible disease took her spirit from us. Even the last time we met, a few days before her death, we laughed. Well, we were trying not to cry.
So many years can pass by unnoticed and the layers of life seem to separate us not only from our friends, but from our true selves. This memory gives me the courage to throw off those layers and reach out to the people I love no matter how long we have been apart. Because that love, though buried, is probably still there and can thrive if you’ll just let it out. And, also, you may be older, fatter, grayer or even a bit wiser, but deep down inside, you’re still you.