Upon reaching my stage of life, one grows philosophical about the fact that time is very limited. There is a sense of gratitude for continuing good health, gainful employment, and the blessings of friends and family. A certain serenity settles in, keeping one centered in the now and welcoming of whatever days remain. At least, that has been my own comfortable path into maturity.
Then suddenly, I've learned that a long-ago friend has died and I've been plunged into a roiling sea of emotional memories. Events and occasions that haven’t crossed my mind in years, perhaps decades, have come crashing in powerful waves as I remember happy times long past.
Steve Kasold was a college classmate. During our senior year, Steve and Pete carpooled for a semester of student teaching, and our school friendship took firm root. Pete and I were already married; Steve was dating his future wife, Lorraine. Our social get-togethers began in my tiny, off-campus apartment in rural Pennsylvania. The year after graduation, Pete and I danced at Steve and Lorraine’s wedding. We visited each other’s homes often in New York, where we had all returned after college to begin our fledgling adult lives.
A few years later, Pete and I moved to California, and Steve and Lorraine moved to various states throughout the years. We kept in touch through letters, cards, (Steve wrote me a beautiful note after Pete died), and a couple of rare reunions on the East or West coast. Over the decades, the recollections of our good times together shifted quietly to the background of my mind; but they were not forgotten. My current tsunami of memories are as clear and vivid as though they had happened yesterday instead of more than forty years ago.
I'm remembering afternoons and evenings of cold beer and warm conversation, limitless laughter and shared jokes, thoughtful discussions and teasing banter. I recall support and encouragement, kindness and generosity, helpfulness and concern—all the stuff of true friendship, those precious qualities that endure beyond and outside of time.
Like the early winds of winter, the season of goodbyes has enfolded me with cold reality. None of us knows the future; I may be the next in our circle to follow Steve. But if I’m blessed with a long life, I know I will need to withstand more chilling gusts of sorrow as cherished friends pass on. I trust that, as Steve did, they will leave behind the bright glow of joyful memories, those warm remembrances that will help to melt even the most bitter snows of sadness.