Facebook has reconnected me with a lot of old friends from high school. It's been nice to see how everyone is doing, but strange to see so many people who I still remember as teenagers, having babies of their own. I was happy to leave high school and Fort McMurray and anxious to start a new life somewhere else. In hind sight, I was probably too anxious. Sometimes I wish I had stayed more connected, kept friends a little longer and not been so quick to start fresh. I was looking through pictures tonight and so many people I went to school with are still friends and still hang out together. It made me feel a little sad - like maybe I was missing out on the only thing I have left of my teenage years.
It has also made me think a lot about the people we lost along the way. Friends who died or were killed or who made decisions that they never really recovered from. It made me think especially about the handful of people I knew who committed suicide. When we were in high school, everything mattered so much. Who you dated (or didn't), who you hung out with, what you wore, whether you were in band or drama or played sports. It was a lot of pressure and I don't think any of us really dealt all that well with it. I guess some of us were better at hiding it than others.
When I think of the young people who chose to end their life it makes me feel so sad. I felt sad at the time of course, but now, standing on the other side of things, the real sadness of those loses is greater, even if it is numbed by time. If only they could have hung on a little longer, the things that seemed so bad would have become bearable, and eventually, laughable. Now, nearly 15 years later, the cool crowd doesn't exist anymore - we are all just people with partners, and jobs and kids. Nobody cares what you wore, or what bands you listened to or whether you were cool. The cliques merged long ago and the embarrassing moments have been forgotten. The heartbreaking words, "slut", "loser", "fag" have lost some of their power and we are all a little kinder and wiser. They were so close to making it out, out into the real worlds, into their lives full of opportunity and the potential to become what they wanted. The girlfriends they thought were worth dying for would have become nothing more than a school crush and the agony of not belonging might have fueled a life full of compassion and promise.
I wish so badly that I could go back and tell them to keep going. I wish I could go back and tell myself that it wasn't so bad. I think of so many of the people I went to school with and most of them (even the ones often underestimated) have done well for themselves and are off living their lives. I have not forgotten those who are not.