For two decades now, we’ve remained friends.
And while that sentence does make me feel incredibly old, it also makes me feel incredibly fortunate.
In high school, we were far from what you’d call popular. There were no late night parties with the cool kids for us. But we had each other, and that was enough. After school and every weekend, we’d be playing video games, going to TGI Friday’s, or shooting pool. The old gang was inseparable.
But from the moment we headed in different directions for college, it got harder for us to all get together. The years passed, people started careers, got into serious relationships, moved away, and before we knew it, the old gang wasn’t hanging out as much as we used to.
When Nick got sick, he wanted to get us all together, with an emphasis on the word “all.” Even back then, before any of us had kids, it was still a tall order to get the nine of us (plus significant others) all in the same place at the same time. But Nick was about to start a particularly intense round of treatment, so he invited us out for a big Italian dinner in the city.
And everyone came.
In spite of the reason for us getting together, it was still a really nice night. Even when it’s been a while, a group of friends like us can get together and it feels like no time has passed at all. The mood was optimistic; that Nick was about to go through a rough patch, but we’d all be there to support him, and we’d get the gang back together again to celebrate once he was in remission.
Tragically the next time the nine of us were all together was when we said our final goodbyes to Nick.
After that, we decided to honor Nick by all getting together—emphasis on the word “all”—at least once a year. So we have a BBQ every summer, with the idea of doing it somewhat close to Nick’s birthday. But the actual date doesn’t matter—the important thing is that we get the old gang back together.
Of course, it’s not exactly like the old times. While we gather to remember the friend we lost, the day has been completely taken over by those we’ve gained—our children. Now its not just about us talking about video games and Star Wars (though of course that still happens, too). Now it’s about the kids running around and playing with each other, and the adults having to interrupt their catch-up conversations to get the little ones more ketchup.
Our group has been through a lot, and we’re extremely lucky to have each other. Now, seeing the next generation all getting along too, is truly a beautiful thing.