Today is also the end of my 25th college reunion at Harvard. I have been having a great time with my classmates, and it's ending before I'm ready. I feel like I've only spoken to half as many people as I'd like, and only for half as long as I'd like. But at least I got to come; JFK did not live to his 25th. I've been joking that I will soon have achieved two things John Kennedy never managed: going to my 25th Harvard reunion and turning 47. But it's not funny. It's just true.
Fifteen of my classmates are already gone, all too soon. Some I knew and some I didn't. And two of the seven people I roomed with over those years have already passed away. I wasn't in touch with them as much as I would have liked. I wish I had taken the chance while I had it.
Mortality has been in my mind, because of my mother's passing a few months ago. Some of my college classmates knew about her death before this weekend, because of social media. Some old friends didn't know, and I told them over the last few days when there seemed like a reasonable moment to tell them. Others I didn't tell, because the time was never right or because we have never been more than casual friends.
I've grown obsessed over the last few years with the Grant Study of Adult Development, a longitudinal study of human aging that tracked 268 Harvard boys over the rest of their long, complicated lives, trying to assess their mental and physical health and growth. They are the worst social science sample possible, so over privileged that they can't be representative. I mean, the guys in that study had a 1 in 268 chance of actually being JFK. But I think about them a lot, because the study illustrates so much about growth in the second half of life, and I am coming to the second half of life. And the Grant Study promises that there is a continuing process of maturation and growth after, for example, a 25th reunion.
The Grant Study also emphasizes relationships and close connections. And perhaps that's why my reunion seems like such a gift. But it is bittersweet to see all these faces for such swift moments, when Imwant to sit them all down for long conversations. And so I guess that's my lesson this Memorial Day weekend: it all goes by so very, very soon.