I am not among those people who really loved high school. Honestly, I couldn’t wait to get out of high school and on to whatever grand adventures awaited me beyond the oppressive social constructs of adolescence and (mostly) the confines of my parents’ house.
So I was very surprised a few years ago when 20 years since high school graduation rolled around and I started getting emails about a reunion. I couldn’t make it to the reunion, but I thoroughly enjoyed the website one of my classmates set up. On it, we all posted updates about our families and activities, recalled funny experiences from high school, and exclaimed over whose profession surprised us the most. I loved catching up with folks from my past, and I even found that those who intimidated me so much in high school were actually pretty nice now that we were all grown ups. After that experience I connected with several high school friends on Facebook, and it has been very interesting to watch how the different lives we’ve taken converge and clash in that forum. Don’t get me wrong, you couldn’t pay me enough to ever go back to high school, but in many ways this coming full circle has healed or redeemed my high school experience.
I was very sad, then, today to get an email from our class website administrator informing us all that one of our classmates, Lianne Takemori Renfroe, died of cancer yesterday. I wasn’t particularly close to Lianne in high school, but our class was small enough that we all knew each other. Of course, this news is tragic for Lianne’s family and close friends, but news of Lianne’s death also made me think again today about the brevity of life. I see death all the time in my job, but when someone you went to high school with dies the sobering reality of how fragile our lives are comes into much clearer focus.
Some questions that come to mind today: Do the people I love know I love them? Am I putting my time, energy, and intention into the things I care about the most? Does my life reflect what I believe about God? Are my days filled with living toward the things I dream of the most?
Those are heavy but important questions. Today I’ll remember Lianne and think a little harder about how I might answer those questions and live with a little more intention and a little more grace.