For years and years, I looked for her, Elizabeth from 4th grade. I’ve written about her in my post “Amends” and with the advent of social media I could never find her. Every time I’d hear a story about bullying I saw her face and then mine. When I saw the movie Flatliners, I couldn’t get her out of my head for a month. I wanted so badly to apologize to this little 4th-grade girl, and I never thought I’d get the chance. That is until the other day; there she was by complete accident on a friend’s Facebook feed. I was scared to befriend her, I wondered if she remembered me, I wondered if she hated me, I wondered if she even cared, I wondered if she had the same childhood memory I lugged around for almost half a century. I tucked fear into the back seat, and then I requested her as a friend on Facebook. In what seemed like an instant she accepted my request. My hands were trembling, and I was afraid. My hope was she didn’t remember the incident or me.
A few minutes later I sent her an email and a copy of my post “Amends”. She responded to my email a few days later with a simple Apology Accepted, an emoji thumbs up, and a wish for a blessed and happy Thanksgiving. Just like that I had apologized, and she accepted. It was over. Something I have worried about on and off for almost 40 years was over. I’m not sure what I was afraid of or what I expected to feel, it’s not like she would have actually called me, it’s not like I’d bump into at the grocery store, we lived almost 1,000 miles from each other, but I was still afraid. I guess I expected to make my amends and feel great, like a huge load was lifted off my shoulders, but I didn’t. I expected to see unicorns outside my window sliding down a rainbow giving me a high five, but I didn’t see that either. I just thought to myself, ok check that off the list.
I’ve had this, albeit small list, in my mind my whole life, a kind of master to do list and here I was crossing off another thing from the list. First the bakery, then committing to run a ½ marathon and now I’ve found Elizabeth. It seems like the older I get, the more things I seem to be checking off that master list, and that got me wondering if that is what happens when we got older. What if our entire life is made up of this list and you just go through life clicking things off that list. But then I thought, what happens when you get to the end of your list? Is it Hello Pearly Gates, if you’re lucky? Or if you don’t check off everything off your list and make all the necessary amends is it then “Wow it’s hot down here, this can’t be right”?
Whatever the case may be, I’m sad in a way that I’ve checked that one off my list. Not because I didn’t want to fix things with Elizabeth, but because I feel slightly older and like I’m at the end of a magnificent book with only a few chapters left. I know that is not really true and that fifty is the new thirty, whatever that means. But maybe what it means is it’s time to make a new list, a more fun list. Maybe there are two life lists. The first part of your life and the first list you are cleaning up old issues and the second part of your life and second list are meant to have unencumbered fun. That thought makes me smile.