Lovely story Erin. I too skipped my 10, 20 and 30 year reunions before going to my 40th. I was planning to skip it too, but my youngest niece, who was caring for me during my cancer fight, found the invitation. Without her pushing a little, I would never have gone.
I went as Paula and everyone was quite surprised. The fears I had let keep me from going in the past were proven to be nothing really, just in my head at those times. Classmates greeted me warmly and most even sincerely too. It took place over three days, even riding a float in the city parade. (Now THAT was scary, to be in front of the whole town like that). Of course, most of my teachers have been long gone for many years, but I actually did have a good time seeing some of the people after 40 years.