CLASS PROPHECY by Dene Hellman

We met to celebrate a family birthday. The restaurant was pleasant, the neighborhood upscale.
Our group was small because many family members live too far away to return for small events and others can’t come because their lives have been complicated by illness or other problems. Those of us present, however, were happy to be together and looking forward to the years ahead when we would celebrate holidays and significant times in our lives.
We were seated and enjoying our drinks when a long table in the room was suddenly filled by about 14 young people who were all festively dressed. I was sitting where I had an all-inclusive view of them and reached the obvious opinion that this was one of those obligatory pre-prom dinners.
I also thought that the youngsters — seven men and seven women — were among the fortunate. They were dressed for dancing, of course, but none of them looked self-conscious. The young women were all in charming short formals, the young men in relaxed versions of tuxes, and they interacted in ways their parents would have approved. Additionally, they displayed no discomfort about themselves, how to manage their napkins, or which form should be put to use.
While it was impossible to know what school they represented or in what homes they lived, these young people were so obviously at ease that it was evident they had learned their social graces at an early age. It stuck out all over their demeanor and physical selves that these kids had known privilege from the get-go. They likely attended a private school or a high school that drew from a prosperous part of town, possibly even from the part of town in which our restaurant of choice was located.
As I surreptitiously watched, I began to visualize their futures. Undoubtedly, all of these young people were college-bound. Likely, they wouldn’t be saddled with education debt or a multitude of career worries when they finished their degrees. Some would probably go on to become professionals in medicine and law. Others would write books, or head companies or th ey would be elected to office or appointed to important government positions. The world was theirs and they would have the opportunity to claim it whenever they chose.
Except. Except.
Life happens. It happens to all of us and I knew with certainty that it would happen to these 14 beautiful, privileged young people.
At least one of them will die in an accident, not necessarily due to her/his fault. Two of them, perhaps, will fail to find a useful path through life and succumb to the lure of alcohol or drugs or general apathy. Some will be faced with health issues, even in their early years, that will require great diligence and unfortunate limitations. Several of them will be subjected to relationships that will force them to curtail their talents.
This will not make these 14 young people different from their counterparts who are attending schools and proms in less favored places. The world spins, life goes on, good and bad happen to all. These favored young men and women will perhaps have more of a buffer between them and the world — at least for a few years — than most kids, but they won’t be immune.
But, at this moment, in this restaurant where they sit so confidently, they have a wonderful evening ahead of them.
At my table, a happy participant in my family celebration, I silently raise my glass to the present and futures of these beautiful children on the cusp of adulthood and pray that they will beat all odds and every one of them will lead a charmed life.

2 Comments

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2 responses to “CLASS PROPHECY by Dene Hellman

  1. I’ve often had thoughts such as this when looking at children, teen, young adults, newly weds—in fact when observing all sorts of people in many situations. I love the way you said that they would have a wonderful evening to enjoy. If only we could always have this mindset: enjoy the moment!

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