I heard of the death of an old friend today via the small network I have with other old friends. No names here - the obituary has yet to be published in the Syracuse paper.
But it's one of those moments that stops me. I called a local friend who I knew would know the details, and he filled me in. It helps some. I was able to fill in some blanks for the other old friends.
Memories pushed me back to junior high school in Syracuse - Levy, on the east side. Since then I've realized that those three years were really the beginnings of lifelong friendships. Those were the crucial years of learning to belong.
We had so much fun, it seemed, in those days. We traveled as a group, something new to me, raised as an only child. It was neighborhood fun - playing kickball in the field at Levy in the evenings, ice skating in Thornden park after dark, watching the boys skateboard down Berkeley or watching the boys play football in front of the dorm on Euclid.
I saw the old friend at our reunion twenty years ago. I hadn't seen him since graduation, and we had drifted into different spheres of influence prior to that. But somehow there was a connection still, maybe from elementary school even, that wasn't there with others. We said good-bye.
Life. I planted more flowers today, spent the afternoon catching calls and writing to friends. I'll spend the evening watching my twelve-year-old nephew play his last baseball game of the season in his neighborhood. Life.