Friday, April 24, 2020

A Letter to my Graduating Senior

My dear girl, 

By now, it is abundantly clear that this year will not end the way anyone anticipated. The first day you walked into kindergarten, we started along a path that was supposed to lead to you walking across a stage in a cap and gown, receiving your diploma, celebrating all you have accomplished over the past (almost) 18 years. 

We know now that the journey will not end that way. 

It breaks my heart that, despite the mama bear in me who is willing to fight to the death for you, this is a battle I cannot win and an ending I cannot change. There are, however, a few things I still want you to know. 

  1. THIS DOES NOT DIMINISH WHAT YOU HAVE ACHIEVED! You have worked tirelessly for thirteen years. You have overcome hard things - academically, socially, and emotionally. You have faced challenges head on and overcome them all. Those victories are YOURS and no virus or cancelled ceremony can take them from you. They have strengthened you, taught you, and made you who you are today. Stand tall and hold your head high. You have MUCH to be proud of.
  2. IT IS OKAY TO BE UPSET! The rug has been ripped out from underneath your feet and you have every right to feel sad, disappointed, angry, and overwhelmed. You need to grieve what you have lost. Whatever emotions you are experiencing, let them flow! Ugly cry, yell, curse if you need to. I'll ugly cry with you, yell with you, curse with you. I'll give you my shoulder, wrap you in a hug, and just sit with the feelings for a while if that's what you need. Your feelings are real and completely justified. Don't be afraid to feel them deeply.
  3. YOU WILL BE CELEBRATED! There may be no "Pomp and Circumstance" played, but we will celebrate you in our own way. As we are able, we will celebrate your friends as well. My hope and prayer is that, in some way, our celebrations will be even more meaningful than an auditorium full of faces and a few stiff handshakes on the stage. Our celebrations may be small, but they will be filled with joy, love, and laughter.  
  4. THIS TOO SHALL PASS! I said that a lot when you were little and even as you grew. That phrase got me through sleepless nights, toddler temper tantrums, middle school angst, and teaching you to drive. I know right now it feels like an enormous roadblock, but, in time, we will look back and see it only as a bump in the road - albeit it a painful one. It will not stop you from moving on and achieving even more. It will be a piece of your puzzle, but it will not define your future. 
Right now, these words may seem hollow to you- a poor substitute for the celebrations you truly deserve and the memories you never got to make. That's okay. I'm writing them down for you, but also for me. I've been on the journey with you and I wanted to celebrate, too. Despite our heartache over what will not happen, I will forever be grateful for what HAS happened - the gift of time and precious moments spent with you, walking, talking, laughing, lamenting. They are in a different category of "special moments," and I will treasure them even more fiercely than the ones that should have been. I hope you will treasure them, too. 

I'll end by repeating my #1 - this does not diminish what you have achieved. Never doubt how proud we are. Never doubt how much you are loved. Never doubt your own strength and resilience. Walk tall with sure steps and abundant grace. Rest assured that, while one journey is ending abruptly, another grander one is just beginning! 

With love beyond measure,

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