Thane leaned over to me and whispered, "Isn't that..." while subtly leaning his head to left. I glanced down the bleachers and nodded. "Yes," I whispered back, "that's L." He scooted down the bench and starting talking to the woman while I walked over to her other side.
I saw the light go on. "Thane?" she said. "Sharry?" as she looked at me. We both nodded and exchanged quick hugs with her.
L had been one of my best friends in high school, the one who stood up with me at my wedding, and yet another friend who vanished from my life as if she never existed. Then here we were, over 20 years later, each watching our kids swim at the Alaska Age Group Championships in Fairbanks.
We chatted for a few awkward minutes, getting caught up on the biggest issues, meeting husbands and kids, and then went back to our spots on the bench. We'd have the opportunity to talk a bit more over the next couple of days.
L filled us in on her years and years of medical issues, divorce and remarriage, sending her ex to jail, and current life situation. Although she seemed to have a happy life with her second husband and two sons, it was clear that the years since high school had not been easy for her.
I couldn't help but feel a little guilty. Not that I had anything to do with how her life has turned out, but I always feel a bit guilty about how good my life has been when I encounter an old friend who's had one difficulty after another. Sure, there have been a few tough times in my life, times when we were poor as church mice, decisions I wish I hadn't made, but overall, I've had a pretty easy go of it. Thane and I have been happily married for over 21 years, we have a wonderful daughter, we're all healthy, and we've managed to earn a very respectable living. Barring any unforeseen tragedies, we're pretty well set in life.
So, why me? Why has it been comparatively easier for me than for some of my friends? Have I just been lucky, or did I do something to "earn" my life status?
Guilt is perhaps to strong a word for my feelings. I do feel the need to be careful to not speak too much about how well we're doing, however. I suppose I'm just overreacting to the situation. Perhaps there's a little Puritan or Amish or Mennonite (or something) hiding away in me who is fearful of appearing to be a braggart or better than her peers.
How do you feel around peers who aren't as well off as you are? Do you feel a need to be a bit more careful around them?