Seniors ought to be launching into the last leg of high school with joy and a carefree skip in their step, taunting underclassmen and boasting college choices, but instead they are isolated from each other, walking the slow march to the graveyard of grade school to dump notebooks and maybe even graduation. they may be burying their senior year sooner then expected. There are five steps to grieving.
- denial and isolation
Where are high school seniors on this scale right now? Do they need an little extra compassion from us as parents? This drawing is of my son Joel, he is wrestling his senior year out of his own hands. I can see it on his face, hear it in the tone of his voice and the words he speaks. What now? will I graduate? Will I reap the benefits of 12 years of hard work? will I receive the rewards and privileges of being a senior – wear the cap and gown, walk the locker plastered halls one last time, will i see my friends again, sit in class with them, pass a note to a neighbor, will I ever get to be a kid again? He is trapped between the unknown remnants of high school and the unknown preamble of college. He didn’t know his last day was his last day.
The final push of senior year has dissolved into virtual classrooms, and online college tours. Parents are stunned and scrambling rather than hunting for baby pictures and putting together photo boards . Can there be something great in all this? Is there life after death? A silver lining, a happy ending?
Joel, I suggest you see yourself launching not from a familiar platform onto an existing ride, but from faith to faith. You are emerging from a unique experience, which of course is coronavirus, to an entirely new and unexplored reality, college. You are leaping from unknown to unknown. Robert Frost wrote a popular poem that is often quoted by seniors in graduation speeches, the road less traveled, I would say you are being forced to bury “the road less traveled” and embark on “the road never taken.” You may not get to experience the senior year others have talked about. The one you have before you is different, forged in disappointment, anger, certainly isolation, but dripping with newness of life , acceptance and hope.
Your life can still be full, not in spite of disappointments, but because of them. live that way.
Maturity has been forced upon you because, this is a war, a different kind of war, but one you must deal with nevertheless. Bury it and let it go I promise there is life and joy ahead. Consider that the “rewards” seniors have collected and displayed are remnants of childhood, padding the transition into adulthood. Does this padding really make for better people, happier men and woman, more prepared for college years? No! That cap and gown eventually gets tossed and forgotten, buried beneath responsibilities and weightier matters of life. The ceremony you deserve merely represents what you have accomplished, it isn’t the substance itself. Anyone can put on a graduation gown and still fail miserably in life. There are people who never wore those robes and yet they have succeeded and left incredible legacies behind. Consider men like George Washington. George Washington was the first president of our nation and he only had a sixth grade education, his gains and triumphs were in him, and they’re in you, not in external adornments. We have made gods out of graduations and senior privileges, but they are a shell of the true treasure which is you. What is the true lasting reward? maybe you and all the other seniors have to answer that for yourselves, maybe that is the challenge before you?
Who will define the new normal, the better rewards, forge the road ahead?
Twenty twenty seniors are going to be the first to either create a new path or drown in the despair of losing the gold sticker stars. But here is your chance, a bigger opportunity than any class before you? Will you step up to the plate, will you accept the challenge? In every generation there certainly is an obstacle to conquer, this is one of yours. I grieve with you for the loss, and it is a loss even in the midst of the greater losses of life and health due to this pandemic, every loss is known greatest to its owner. I wonder how will you handle it?
You did the work, you have run the course, you have finished the race, make no mistake. There is still a lot to be excited about. Perhaps you won’t reap the same rewards in the same way seniors have in the past, you can re-invent new ways to celebrate your success and hard work. You are the generation that gets to be inventors and pilots of something better, something newer, something more meaningful perhaps. Please don’t attach your accomplishment to a fleeting celebration, you are the celebration.Graduation doesn’t come from an auditorium or a tent, it comes from within and you take that with you wherever you walk in life. Good Job, well Done. Senior privileges or not at the end of the year you have finished the course, earned your privileges and I am proud of you.
This year may not end with ribbons, caps and confetti, but it will end, and when it does, the beginning is still waiting for you. Like a seed buried you will emerge to new life. Feel your feelings, ask your questions, speak your mind, rise up, walk, go forward its STILL your turn to live.