Tuesday, June 23, 2009

List of Lasts

Our son, William, just graduated from high school. Months before his big day, I noticed him pointing out particular events that were going to be his "last." Football games, concerts, plays, and dances were each noted and checked off, like items on some adolescent "bucket list.” 

“This is the last time I’ll wear my drum major’s uniform,” he sighed, while preparing to lead the marching band in the Loyalty Day Parade.

“This is my last high school stage performance,” he thought, after taking a curtain call for the musical “Big River.”

He expressed it in his farewell address at commencement, “Our joy dims when we realize that…each day we enter this school becomes one closer to the last.” I couldn't help but feel his outlook was a little sad, that each experience may have become tainted by focusing on the bitter rather than the sweet.

As it turned out, Will's perspective wasn’t as negative as I feared. He wasn't bemoaning the end of high school or expressing reluctance to graduate to the next stage in life. He was just stating, matter of factly, that it’s been a year of mixed emotions, including both nostalgia for the past and anticipation of the future.

I began to wonder if I could view this pivotal year with a healthy balance of emotion. I came up with my own "list of lasts." These seemingly insignificant daily rituals have been honed and polished into touchstones over sixteen years of sending kids off to school.

It’s the last time I‘ll…
~Wash a gym suit.
~Pack a lunch.
~Shout, “Do your best.” as he races out the door for school.
~Nag about homework and clarinet practicing.
~Pick up dirty socks.
~Trip over piles of sneakers.
~Wait up at night for him to come home.

And you know what? I'll miss every last one of them! It's the bittersweet end of an era that I'm approaching with mixed emotions. Now who’s the one with a negative attitude?