It has been six years (almost to the day) since I last "went home" to New York City. I went back in November 2002 to attend my 20th high school reunion and haven't been back to visit since. While that was a happy occasion, the reason for this visit was not as happy. My best friend in high school, Melvin, lost his brother Michael to a brief battle with liver cancer and I journeyed to New York to attend Michael's memorial service on Friday evening, and then stayed for the weekend to visit with other old friends who still call New York home.
First, what an amazing thing to be able to be there to support my friend Melvin and his family in their time of need. While I feel like I didn't "do" anything while I was I there, I was told several times how important it was that I cared enough to show my support in such a physical, tangible way. Well, I believe Melvin would do the same for me if the situation was reversed...but even if he wouldn't, I am glad that I was able to be there with him and for him in his time of loss. And while I didn't really know Michael (I mean, who has time for your friend's younger siblings when you are growing up?), hearing the testimonies and tributes of the men and women who gathered to pass tribute to his life was amazing. When attending services like this one, I always wonder what will be said of me when it is my time to die. Nice things, I pray, but in order to ensure that, I have to live my life in such a way that those are the memories that people will have when I am gone. Yeah, I need to start working on that!
Then, I was blessed to be able to attend the church that I attended as a teenager and where I was first baptized into the Adventist faith. What a blessing to see old friends who are still actively involved in the church (although it is very interesting to see my contemporaries holding the offices that our parents held when I attended!) I am so glad that my friends are holding on to their faith and to the Hand of God decades later. Amen!
Saturday evening I was able to spend time with a high school classmate who reached out to me five years ago with an amazing story that I cannot share here, but suffice it to say, from that story, we have developed a friendship that has only been nurtured by phone calls and emails for five years. Saturday evening, we were able to sit down, face to face, and break bread together at Cheesecake Factory. I love stuff like that.
And then Sunday before I left to fly home, I was able to spend time with a couple who sowed kindness, love and friendship into my brother and I at a time when we needed it desperately. They provide a refuge from the madness that was our home environment at the time and, for years later, were a source of encouragement, friendship and parenting for my brother after I was long gone to Atlanta and my mother had followed me south. What a blessing to be able to visit with them and tell them "thank you" for what they did for us. And finally, I was able to spend time with two other high school classmates and share stories about our joy at being alive at such a time as this - more good food - Thai food!, yum! - fellowship and conversation before one of them drove me to the airport and I flew home.
It was a packed weekend - and now I have to unpack one suitcase and immediately begin packing it again as I am flying away to Mexico on Saturday for a week's vacation with my godsister - don't be jealous! I'll think of you often as I sit on the beach and drink various and sundry drinks brought to me by gorgeous Mexican men...hahaha. I am glad I had all the experiences I had this weekend. I am glad I am home safely.
When will I visit New York again...? Have no idea, but the memories of this visit will long remain with me. I pray you had a great weekend as well - wherever you are, whatever you did.