The Challenger Explosion–
John F. Kennedy assassination.
Tragedies that knit us together as a people. If you lived through any of these, you have a shared history with others that did as well.
At my school, students go through in a cohort, taking the same classes with each other for three or more years. During that time there are deaths of parents. Engagements. Pregnancies.
New babies are brought to class to share, and pictures of the honeymoon are posted on the Web. At the end, at graduation, the cohort disbands. But a surprising number stay in touch for reunions year after year. They have a shared history.
Family members also share special experiences. My sibs and I can remember Dakota snowstorms, and Friday nights at the drive-in, and fishing by the river. Although it may be a generational thing. My children and I experienced the same events but almost from different ends of the telescope! Still, we have a shared history.
I have visited the same family doctor for over 30 years. He pierced my ears and was present at my emergency surgery for gallstones. He set my child’s broken arm and was there for me during the stressful years in the brokerage business.
I, in turn, shared office dramas as nurses quit or were fired, new receptionists had to be broken in. I was there during the turmoil of his marriage failure and remarriage to a wonderful artist. We have a shared history.
Recently I received news that a long-time friend has entered into hospice care. I grieve for her, and also for the shared history that will vanish when she dies. We started a company together, climbed a mountain, dealt with difficult trust customers.
I was there when her husband died and she moved to a new home with her niece. She was there for me when I finally graduated from my doctoral program and was a strong support during marriage problems. We have a shared history.
Moving through this final experience with her is bittersweet. Yes, I will still have memories. But no one I can share them with. No one who will know exactly what I mean when I talk about too many poinsettias or cat prints on the ceiling.
A part of me will be lost, when she is no longer in this world. Something I have now have will vanish, be lost forever.
Would I rather not have known her for the sadness I feel now? In no way!
But. And still.