Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Catching Up

This has been a crazy busy week. And not in a very good way. When last we left our heroes, they were recuperating from a busy wedding weekend in Louisville. Strangely, I don't think we fully recovered before life threw us another curve. That's kind of how life rolls, isn't it?

Wednesday night Momma called to tell me that a high school classmate had been trying to get in touch with me all day. Since we have the kind of relationship where you run into one another in various restaurants and grocery stores around town, this was strange. What she told me was stranger yet. One of our closest friends from high school is dead. It still seems surreal even to type it. Jessica Bungard was one of the most hilarious, often inappropriate and always thoughtful people I've ever known. If I can be a tenth of the person in 90 years that Jess was in 31, then I'll be happy. If you knew Jessica and would like to see some of what people are saying and feeling, check out these links:
Jessica's Memorial Page
Jessica's Facebook Memorial Page

Jess turned 31 three days before she was killed. She was married in October and for her to have made that leap, he has to be an amazing guy. Jessica was stuck by a car while riding her bike, 9 AM Sunday morning. She was dead on the scene, so we all hope it was blessedly quick.

What really got me about this is how hard it was to get in touch with people, how hard it was to tell them that we are now without this wonderful person, and yet how easy it was just to settle right back into friendships from 13 years ago. The Bum and I went out with a few friends Friday night to talk about Jess and basically try to forget that we had to attend a funeral the next day for someone we've taken for granted for so long. The four of us were laughing and goofing off immediately, and yet sharing our deepest fears and memories of Jess, all at once. Saturday at the funeral was horrible. Truly the most horrible thing I've done in a long, long time. But, we got to see some folks that I personally haven't seen in nearly 13 years. See, I skipped our 10 year reunion. I figured that high school was a pretty miserable experience, and why did I want to repeat that as an adult? Besides, we weren't married at the time, so I felt pretty incomplete as an grown up. And, really, who wants to show up to their reunion mostly unchanged. Still not skinny, still with horrible hair, and still single. So instead I had an immensely successful piano recital and then crashed in my nice, clean, quiet house while everyone else gathered to gossip and mingle. And I missed out, I tell you. MOM!!! I'm admitting it!! I was wrong!

Here's the thing -- I have gone out of my way to avoid some of the people that we went to high school with. I have gone down the wrong aisle in every store in the Burg. Some I avoid all together. Why??! This makes no sense to me. How can anyone be so self-important as to think that others are focusing on your shortcomings in the grocery store? And how haughty is it to imagine that maybe they won't recognize you as you've changed oh-so-much. Or not at all!! If I remember them after 13 years, chances are they will, too. I have often uttered the phrase: "She was rude to me throughout high school. Why would I want to know her now, when I have a choice?" How much more horrible is it for me to be rude at 30?? Someone punch me if I ever say such things again.

One of the biggest regrets of my life is always going to be that I never reached out to Jessica and renewed our friendship. She left her number with my dad, and I lost it when we moved. She was one of my closest friends in high school and still I never bothered. How can I ever know how much richer my life could have been by having an extra 13 years of Jessica influencing it, instead of just 6 or 7? I have a feeling it would have been immensely better.

And how do I know that some of the 172 people we graduated with, or the three or four times that number that we went to high school with, can't impact my life in just as great a measure? Or, being a bit egocentric, how do I know that I wouldn't impact them? How can one truly be a Christian, for that matter, and block others out of their lives? I have no idea how God will use me on a daily basis, and it could easily be lunch or even a phone call to an old friend that is His plan. I have turned my back on people in general, and on the service of the Lord specifically. That is just wrong.

Remember, please, if nothing else: you affect people. In good ways or bad, the slightest thing might be just what they need for today. Call your friends. Call old friends, call acquaintances. Don't go down the other aisle in the grocery store. Go out for drinks and hot wings, if it's your thing. Don't just know that friends got married; know their anniversary and send a card. Know their spouse by name. Don't just know that your classmates had kids; know their birthdays, and be thankful for those endless pictures they email you. Someday your kids will need friends -- maybe you can help them get started. We all had "family friends" as kids; people that our parents knew from work or school or growing up. This was not accidental! We must cultivate friendships and relationships, and be open to being the face, voice, hands, and arms of God for someone else. Whoever your God, allow yourself to be used by Him for good, and make a difference. Go affect someone. Jessica Bungard affected everyone she came in contact with, and no one will ever forget her. I don't want any less, now that I have seen the light. She showed me the way, and I am so grateful.

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