I grew up and currently live in a town with a population of a little over 300 people. Although many of the faces have changed over the years I still am connected to the people who were a part of my childhood. I remember when I was in the sixth grade there was a total of 32 kids in the entire school. We didn’t have a third grade that year because there weren’t any kids that age. My mother was “the chief cook and bottle washer” (her words) at the school so I remember the number of people she fed daily.
To say we were close with our peers at the time doesn’t really do justice to what our relationships were. Yes, we went to school every week day. We all were involved in 4-H in one way or another. We spent time at each other’s homes, knew their parents, their extended families. It was as though we were all related. I figure there’s about a 15 year span on either side of my age of people I feel a certain closeness to. These are people I always felt I knew better than the people I went to high school with. When we are reunited for one reason or another it’s more than seeing a long ago friend, it’s more like reunion with a family member you haven’t seen in quite some time. We have a tight, collective history.
I always think of my life as a woven piece of fabric. As time goes by weft threads are added that represent the relationships I have. Family, friends, acquaintances are all represented in one way or another. When I lose someone who is part of my life it creates a hole in the fabric itself. Sometimes it ravels a little, sometimes the hole is so large it threatens to undermine the integrity of the fabric itself. In the past few months three people I grew up with have died, all in their early 50’s. It initially comes as a shock and for me it puts a little hole in the fabric. Those holes are also where their threads end. What initially starts as a fine fabric builds into a heavy, substantial cloth and I feel as though by the time it’s done it will be a beautiful lace. With time the holes become less ragged and are transformed by memories into something beautiful.