Sue and I count among life’s treasures the relationships we continue to nurture with a small group of college roommates. The journey began almost thirty-six years ago when my roommate, Al, and I became next room neighbors with Jim and Marc in a college dorm. We were an unlikely foursome with diverse backgrounds, interests and life experiences but a shared set of core values and a shared bathroom launched a lasting friendship.
Throughout the years we’ve met almost every six months at various locations to share the stories of life. It’s just a continuing conversation. If we kept a diary of the stories shared it would reflect the roller coaster nature of living similar to yours. But when four couples share openly and intimately from their experiences the richness is multiplied. Each one is enriched by the joys and yet supported in the disappointments shared. The diary would hold many chapters including stories about marriage, career, children, miscarriages, loss of parents, raising teenagers, cancer, job changes and setbacks, marriage of our children, medical concerns, grandchildren and even the contemplation of retirement. When shared by a factor of four each story almost becomes our own.
Little has changed at our reunions. Yes, we used to stay up later, eat more and spend less but whatever we have done is intended to be relaxing and encouraging. Our shared meals and group excursions reflect our broadening yet shared interests and, as always, the men still rise early on Saturday for a guy only breakfast.
For all the fun we create when we’re together – it’s in the crunch times that this group insurance plan kicks into high gear. When there’s a medical issue or a business set back or a family crisis – the phone calls increase between our face to face times together.
At our most recent gathering in a riverfront hotel in St. Louis, we concluded the reunion by taking the short trip to join in worship at Jim and Mandy’s church and then on to their farmhouse home for a Super Bowl party.
Once again, we experienced that each gathering is an affirmation of our common interests and our commitment to each other. Shortly before kickoff, Mandy and Jim called for a group meeting. Soon Sue and I were directed to the sitting room as the other couples gathered to form a circle. I didn’t know what was in the works but it had all the makings of an intervention: close friends, all hands on deck, a spot for us to sit in the center, its premeditated and I don’t have a clue what’s going on. What’s being intervened? I was sure I used deodorant this morning. What’s up with this?
Mandy quickly led off by saying they all wished they could do more to help during this medical journey but at least wanted us to know how much they love us and support us. Then, one by one, each person took the floor to give a tribute to Sue and then to me. There was a word of encouragement, a recognition of a trait or action they had admired, a recollection of some shared exchange from the past that had been meaningful to them. Everyone had rehearsed in their minds what they wanted to say, some spoke from notes to be sure not to miss some sentiment. We heard stories of fond memories together, stories of our support for others when the tables were turned, and we learned of the influence we had on their children. They were piling on and it was simply the best boost to my weary bones I could have experienced. Sue, too, was so encouraged as she bears much of the brunt of my physical shortcomings. But our friends spared nothing in words of honor and tribute to her. Then it was time for a group hug. It was an Inverse Intervention – we came away changed for the better through affirmation.
If you are looking for a means of supporting a friend we can recommend the medicine found in common encouragement. Thanks to our dear friends for your love and care.
In earlier times: