It’s the beginning of another school year and the beginning of the end of a milestone in another group of high school senior’s lives. I see their parents’ eyes glistening as they snap picture after picture of their children doing their high school activities for the last season knowing there is no way to stop time. I was there 2 years ago and I see the day rapidly approaching for my two other high school children.
I watched a friend’s son last year in his last high school football game. The emotion was even greater as this game was for the holy grail of senior lasts – a state championship. I saw him make tackles, break-up passes, and leap into the stands with his friends after they won the game. A fleeting moment forever frozen in the minds of those boys who had played football together since the 4th grade and for their parents who had driven them to practice, washed their gear, sat on the sidelines, cheered for them whether it was 103 degrees or 3 degrees, sunshine, rain or snow, been frequent flyers at the orthopedist's office, celebrated 7th grade championships, touchdowns, and tackles, and ached with them over losses, interceptions, missed tackles, and costly penalties, and prayed and prayed that they were never seriously hurt.
Every senior football, volleyball, and trumpet player, every debater, drama student, cross country runner, and cheerleader will leave their high school fields of play for the last time. Some will leave in the best possible way – with awards and accolades. But for every senior who leaves victorious, others will leave the sideline across the field choking back tears. The senior year has many lasts that result in either a huge celebration or an unrealized dream. College acceptance packets and wait list letters. Fabulous scholarship offers and realizations that a school is not affordable. The lead in the musical and the senior who did not get a call back for the part. The state champion, the runner-up, the one who did not make the playoffs. For the parents, it’s perhaps the last time to be there at the moment these things occur – to throw the party or pick up the pieces.
Almost every day of my son's senior year was bittersweet, a true melding of jubilation and tears – from the picture I barely captured of him running out the door on the first day of his senior year to launching a Chinese lantern with him and the rest of his class at 4:30 in the morning after his graduation party.
The key to surviving these lasts is knowing that they lead to “firsts” – the first excited texts from college, watching him be a part of the first class at Baylor University to “run the line” into McLane Stadium, the first trip home, the first time I heard one of my other children on the phone talking to him, the first time I found out he was running for pure fun, relaxation, and exercise and not for competition.
These firsts are also bittersweet, from moving them into the dorm to talking things out on the phone instead of in person, but they give us the hope and peace that our children's lives are still just beginning. To my senior mamas: Enjoy the year!