My son’s cap and gown arrived over the weekend.
Another reminder of all that this Spring season should have been, and won’t be.
I find myself in a strange place where hope and grief co-mingle, intertwined with each other as if one.
Hope: the long, slow process of reopening has begun.  Certain restrictions are being eased, certain areas of our nation are beginning to take slow steps back to a new sense of normal.  Here in Washington state, we are taking a slower path, yet we begin to see progress.  Our day use areas are reopening, our construction has resumed.  In the coming days, there will be discussions of how to safely resume small gatherings, and eventually to resume a more “normal” semblance of life.
In the middle of the hope, though, there is grief and remembrance for what should have been.
As the parent of a high school junior (whose closest friends are seniors) and a college senior, there is a sense of loss.  This time that is so often spent celebrating the accomplishments of our children and their friends has been stolen from us, and though some events have been rescheduled, we will not fully get them back.
On the surface, they may seem shallow:  Prom, track meets, banquets, concerts, dance competitions, commencements.  But these are events and moments that parents use to mark the passing of time, the milestones in children’s lives.  These are the moments that so many of us look back on with fondness, a defining period of our lives, as we moved from childhood into discovering who we are, and then moving forward into life with those ideals.  Our children are missing out on making memories.
Sure, they are making the best of it.  Socially distant walks, Facetime calls, group texts have all helped to keep them connected to each other.  And there is hope that in the near-ish future, there will be small graduation celebrations, and other special days that they will look back on as their defining moments. It will look different for them than it did for us.
Much of my life has been steeped in tradition. I sometimes remind myself of Tevye from “Fiddler on the Roof” with my love for traditions, but I can’t apologize for it. I have spent the better part of my life marking moments with traditions that feel friendly, that feel like home. I have curated a culture of family tradition with my own children, and lately, much of that culture has been disrupted. As one who charges myself as a memory keeper or family historian, I understand the significance of moments.  After all, we have taken for our banner the phrase, “We do not remember days, we remember moments.”  And as the days of May and June pass into July, many of the moments we planned to remember are gone.  It’s ok to grieve their loss.
In many ways, the next few weeks and months will be like a weight lifting off my shoulders.  But I am also aware that the coming weeks might be the hardest part of all of this. Though many events have been rescheduled for later dates, we will still grieve for what might have been.  And that’s ok.
On the date that my son should have graduated, I will remember.
On the date that should have been Junior/Senior prom, I will remember.
On the date that should have been a dance competition or Senior Night for track, I will remember.
As the days roll around for what we planned to remember, think on this: We will remember. We will grieve. And that’s ok.

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