LIFE

My High School Reunion And Facing The Heart-Wrenching Loss On ‘The Wall’

by Charlene Bazarian
Charlene Bazarian is a fitness and weight loss success story after losing 96 lbs., who has been featured in Good Housekeeping, Oxygen Magazine, Pop Sugar Fitness, First For Women Magazine, Boston Magazine, Fitfluential, Muscle and Strength, The Sun, Daily Mail, and other publications and is known for mixing a no nonsense style of fitness advice with humor on her blog at Fbjfit.com.

I am the self-proclaimed reunion czar of my high school class. While I could say I seized power, I’m not really sure there was much competition for the title.

The simple fact is that planning class reunions combines some of my best abilities: organization, party planning, and nagging people to do things. And so I found myself very much involved.

Reunions conjure up all kinds of feelings, from excitement to nostalgia to some long-forgotten bouts of insecurity. I also know from my own weight-loss journey that they can be a big incentive to lose weight and get in shape.

One of my favorite books of all time, East of Eden by John Steinbeck, mentions a story about a rich king who asks someone to name the luckiest person in the world.

When the person lists three people from long ago instead of the king, he asks, “Do you consider me lucky?” the person answers, “How can I tell? You aren’t dead yet.” The answer ultimately haunts the king.

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Now, what does a high school reunion have to do with this story of the king? My point is that your story isn’t finished being written yet. You don’t have to fall into any set role — I know I haven’t, and going to my high school reunions over the years has been yet another reminder of that.

The fact that I even plan my own class reunions is pretty surprising, because, if I could have, I would have skipped high school altogether and gone right to college, and my younger self would have thought that she’d never look back.

Reunions are full of surprises. People will surprise you with how they act, how they look, and what they’ve ultimately ended up doing with their lives.

I can also tell you that you won’t be able to see the heartache coming.

The handsome football star who died too young in an accident, the bubbly smiling girl who died of breast cancer, and many other very sad and unpredictable stories are all too visible on what I call “the wall.”

At the reunions I’ve been to, I was incredibly sad to see the table that served as an impromptu memorial, decorated with flowers and candles, and strewn with high school yearbook photos of the classmates who have passed away. It was impossible not to remember their young faces, so full of promise with their futures ahead of them. And it was hard to come to grips with the idea they were truly gone.

One year I suggested we do something a little more meaningful than just putting some candles up alongside these photos. After hearing my high school had just been renovated and that people could buy bricks that would be displayed on the entryway wall, the reunion committee helped organize a raffle and we raised enough to buy bricks with the names of the people who passed away in our class.

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There’s no chance that any of the people in my class would have predicted such an act from their classmates, many of whom they weren’t particularly close to, if they were to pass away.

It’s proof that you never really know the difference you end up making to other people, or what people think of you, or what you ultimately mean to someone.

Since I really dislike my own yearbook photo, I’ve tried desperately to bribe one of my assistant czars to use a different picture of me should I make “the wall” first.

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So far, I haven’t found the right price to get this wish granted, as she always says that she doesn’t like her yearbook photo either because of the cowl neck sweater she’s wearing in it. For the time being, we just say to each other, “Let’s just do our best to avoid the wall.”

Besides, who would plan the reunions?

Regret’s a funny thing. There are plenty of things I wish I’d said or done differently, but I remember an old quote that goes something like, “While it is OK to revisit the past, it’s a mistake to dwell there.”

I had plenty of people tell me, when I was trying to lose weight and get fit, that it’s all genetic, or it’s just part of getting older.

To those people I say that it’s a good day to be on this side of the wall — my story is still being written and so is yours.

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Charlene Bazarian is a fitness and weight-loss success story after losing 96 pounds. She mixes her no-nonsense style of fitness advice with humor on her blog at Fbjfit.com and on Facebook at FBJ Fit.