My college roommate Jackie and I met for the first time at Belmont in 1967. A close friend from my hometown was also there along with my cousin who was my best friend growing up. The four of us were an immediate posse and we had one big ole time our freshman year. Eventually our new best friend went back home to Michigan where she married a great guy and raised a family. The rest of us remained closer geographically.
We managed to visit a time or two over the years and loosely stayed in touch. Maybe a year and a half ago, we three Tennesseans were shocked but thrilled to learn that her kids and grands had wound up here too and she and Larry would be relocating to east Tennessee immediately.
We could not wait for that first foursome reunion. And it was a blast - so much fun seeing her face again and catching up. We admired each other's grands in the present. But then the years fell away as we laughed so hard recalling our freshman innocence and antics. We reminded each other of campus parties - and some off campus ones; the unreasonable curfews which could ONLY result in violations; the midnight fire alarms; our tiny dorm rooms and how did we get all that stuff in there. Most of all we basked in the opportunity to be with each other again and eagerly plan our next adventure.
Except. That's all a lie.
We were going to do all that. We were. Everybody was pretty busy last year but we had all the time in the world. This year for sure. Soon. We had all talked about it.
Twenty-eight days ago the formerly healthy Jackie began to experience inexplicable symptoms. Ten days ago she was diagnosed with a rare and deadly brain disease. Eight days ago she stopped recognizing her family. And yesterday our planned reunion became a real regret.