When you think about a lifetime, it's amazing how many different people come & go. Think about friends, alone - how close you can be to someone (say, your best friend in 1st Grade) and how far away you can be from them later. Or lovers - again, at one point they're your other half, the first person who hears your important news - and then years later, you have no contact with them. They've gone from number one to zero.
School is especially conducive to come in/go out friends. It's so easy to make a "best friend" in your English class. And for the whole year, you two are inseparable in that class, maybe even hang out outside of class. But then, the next year comes, and "best friend from English" is immediately replaced with a new class, a new possibility.
And that's just with people in whom we actually invest time. Think about the millions of people that are in & out of our lives who we don't even know. Remember that time you spent the night at a college as a perspective student? You didn't end up going to that school - but remember how much fun you had for 24 hours with your host student? You knew that if you went there, you guys would be friends. But you didn't. Now you don't even remember her name.
Or remember when you were at a random bar in a random city you were visiting? And you met a really interesting person who happened to be sitting next to you. And the whole night at the bar, you sat and talked and had great conversation. Then the night ended, and you never saw the person again.
Or when you made "vacation friends?" (My sister and I did this just about every vacation we took when we were younger.) Friends that you hung out with the whole trip: when you were younger, you would play together at the pool during the day; and then when you were older, you would go to the bar with them. Where are they now? Who knows! What were their names, even? No clue!
This is all weighing on me at the moment. One of my co-workers (Bo) is having a birthday today. I got to thinking that "Bo" is sort of a weird name, which then led me to think about a guy I went to high school with named "Beau" (I know, a sort of convoluted path). But anyway, he was 2 years younger than me and we were both in this small, 16-person choir that met everyday at 7am. Because it was so small (and we were meeting to rehearse really early, we travelled with it, etc.) we were all pretty close. I remember Beau's sort of interesting life tidbit was that his parents were Christian recording artists - so when he was younger, he used to tour the country with them, and then they decided on St. Louis so he could go to the same high school for 4 years.
I haven't thought of this guy in YEARS. In fact, probably not since the day I graduated high school (since we were close in choir, but not close enough to remain in contact after school). I decided to do a little google stalking today to see what old Beau is up to these days. And sadly, within 2 website searches, I learned that he died in January 2009. Apparently he struggled with thyroid cancer for a year; he must have been 23 or 24 years old.
I guess this will happen more and more as we get older - that we'll hear a name that used to mean something to us, and find out the person is gone. But I wonder if there's a point where it won't feel so weird to hear the news?
I'm thankful that Beau's parents have a strong faith that consoled them in their loss - and I'm glad he's no longer suffering in his earthly body - and is, in fact, Home.