As I’m shaking my hand out, to loosen it up at the end of the umpteenth essay exam, some of the earlier finishers slip out the door. School is finishing, and the people that I’ve shared my classes with are finishing and leaving. I feel a little wrench as I realize I will not see these people again.

We’ve learned so much about each other, while talking about the books we all read together. I feel the loss of their company as soon as they leave.

Then I feel silly, because after all, I didn’t REALLY know these people. We were just in a class together. The world is full of strangers that brush against me and pass– on the bus, in the stores, all around. They have nothing to do with me. Yet…It’s so amazing that I can get to know some of them, interact and talk and learn about them, and have the joy of telling them about me…And it works! They are strangers, but we are all tied together.

The tenuousness of human relationships astounds me. They feel so solid and permanent in the middle of that marvelous time or conversation you are sharing, when understanding is easy and quick. But small changes and the passage of time take those people far away, and perhaps they will never cross you path again.

People who you thought were a part of you are utterly gone, out of your life. They could be anywhere in the world, happy sad or indifferent.

When September 11th came, it occurred to me that some of the people who had meant a lot to me might even be dead. How would I know? There would be no mutual friend to call me and let me know. It’s a frightening thought.

And yet, though many people that I’ve shared great moments with, who have impacted my life just by allowing me to know them, wherever they are, are still very much a part of me. I remember them. I will not forget the times we shared. Even if I lose sight of that particular memory, I know because my life was impacted and I became a better person because of all those friends.