Our lives have taken various turns and detours since we shared a stender in the beis medrash. Some of the turns were predictable; most were not. But as soon as Reuvain and I saw each other at the wedding we picked up exactly where we left off 30 years before.
He asked me about my family and I inquired about his.
We looked at our place cards and realized we were sitting at the same table.
We spoke about our children and their struggles with shidduchim and parnassah over the meat knish with the mushroom sauce.
We kvelled about our grandchildren during the soup and laughed about the pranks and fun times we enjoyed in the yeshivah dormitory 35 years ago.
We joked about my becoming a rav and him becoming an investment banker. He told me about his hopes and about his successes; his dreams and his disappointments. Who could have imagined that he who had such difficulty waking up for Shacharis would now be the gabbai who opens the shul each morning?
Close to midnight, as the second dance was about to start, our wives signaled it was time to depart.
As we rose to leave he looked at me and said, “You know, this was really great. Just sitting and schmoozing and laughing and enjoying each other’s company. We should really do this again. How about we meet one day for lunch at a restaurant? Let’s be in touch.”
We exchanged phone numbers and e-mail addresses and agreed to meet again “real soon” for lunch.
We walked to our cars as our wives joked with each other that this time it was the men who had to be coaxed to stop talking.
We smiled and entered our cars.
Suddenly, as I was about to pull away, I heard a light tapping on my window. It was my friend.
I got out of the car.
“You know,” he said, “I know we were both serious about staying in touch and maybe we will exchange a phone call or more likely an e-mail here and there. However, as I got in my car I asked myself, ‘Do we really think we’ll ever take off a half day of work to meet for lunch in a restaurant?’
“I’m busy with my work, my kids, and my ‘stuff.’ You’re the rav of a shul. Do either of us really expect that we’ll ever meet for lunch? Realistically speaking, I doubt it will happen. Who are we kidding? Life is busy; why pretend? Let’s just say it was great spending time together and if and when the opportunity comes our way again, we’ll again enjoy each other’s company.
“I know how you feel about me and you know I care about you. I don’t know when we’ll meet again, but I do know that whenever and if ever it happens, I’ll enjoy it. So let’s say goodbye and realize that saying goodbye is also part of life.”
I got back in the car and my wife asked me, “What chiddush [original thought] did he add?”
I looked at her and said the only words I could to describe his parting words. “He spoke the truth. That was the chiddush.”
“So why do you look sad?” she asked.
“Not sure why,” I answered.
I focused on the road and soon tomorrow’s meetings and shiurim and many other thoughts filled my mind.
By the time I turned off the Parkway I’d almost completely forgotten about the wedding.