My son is graduating high school in two weeks but it hardly feels like cause for celebration.
There will be no in-person ceremony, no happy high-fives or tearful hugs with his classmates or teachers. There was no senior prom, no senior class trip, no sports, no student government, no bands, no clubs, no movie dates.
He didn’t get the chance to really be a senior and he never will again.
He and millions of other students were deprived of a true rite of passage.
After years of looking forward to finally being at the top of the educational food chain, he never even set foot in his high school as a senior. And he was ready to have a great senior year as a student who was widely admired and respected among his classmates.
Instead, he was confined to his bedroom at a desk with a laptop, joining countless online lectures, watching assigned videos, reading books and turning in homework with the click of a mouse. He managed good grades, participated (kind of) in class discussions, did better than many, worse than some.
But it wasn’t the same experience as being a senior at your high school, in your high school, with your classmates and teachers.
Indeed, we will always appreciate that he was able to stay safe and healthy during the pandemic while many families suffered worse fates.
Still, these young people need time and space to rightfully mourn what they lost and won’t ever be able to regain.
They will never have the memories many of us can quickly conjure and have spent decades savoring.
He will be going away to college in the fall and we hope be returning to a sense of normalcy. He’s excited about the future that awaits him.
At the very least it’s a chance to begin again making new and better memories.