Graduating in a Pandemic
Updated: Mar 31, 2020
I was just discussing how long this winter has been, how I can't wait for sunshine, and how nervous I was to take my toddlers on our first family vacation to Disneyland in the spring. The days of sunshine seem distant in a current world of fear and darkness. Our global crisis continues to unfold just at the tip of my fingertips. I read all the stories on social media, while my kids blissfully watch Puppy Dog Pals on the TV. So many things are consuming my mind. What if the ones I love get infected with this virus and there isn't enough room for them in the hospital? Who will take care of my kids if I am working remotely from home? What will happen if I get infected? Will we get to go on our family vacation or should we cancel? How will my favorite small businesses find a way to get through these hard times? What about graduation ceremonies and all of my 2020 high school seniors? None of this is fair, and yet, here we all sit in our own personal "quarantine" with all the same questions and no answers. I feel for so many in our community, but today, I am mourning with all the seniors anticipating their next steps.
Remember it? Just yesterday, you and your family were sitting down at your favorite coffee shop and your biggest concern was choosing your graduation announcements and which picture would look the best. At that time, you were shining. Staring at those photos now, it is hard to bring back that genuine smile. Instead, you choke back the tears because how can you think of yourself when the world is falling apart? But you deserve to take the time to process through every emotion this storm has poured upon you. It's okay to mourn that perfect prom dress hanging in the closet, or the "promposal" you had expertly concocted. It's okay to feel angry that you may not get the satisfaction of that epic walk toward your diploma. It's okay to cry when you have to cancel your graduation BBQ with all your family and friends. And it's okay to punch your pillow when you realize your dream vacation is cancelled, or for the immense disappointment you have for the loss of your highly anticipated spring sports and performances. We see you and we don't blame you. These final days of your senior year are supposed to be filled with excitement and final celebrations. This rite of passage should be covered with your hopes for the future, not the uncertainty of what is to come. Your days ahead will be confusing and unfair and your emotions are justified! You are important and you have worked hard for this.
I sit here, trying to find the right words to say. How do I explain that this too shall pass, and better days are ahead? That you have been granted the gift of time. You have the unique opportunity to slow down the inevitable and enjoy just a bit more time with your family. Take an extra walk with your family dog. You know, the one you have had since elementary school? Maybe that walk will just be to the mailbox and back, but in just a couple of months, that pup won't see you to wag their tail each time you come home from school. Go play catch with your little brother and teach him how to be as bad ass as you are. Read a book for pleasure, before your days are consumed with Psychology 101. Bake cookies with your mom and learn a new recipe, so you can make that homecooked meal, even when you live miles away. Put on your prom dress, and dance with your dad. You never know when it may be the last time. Most importantly, you have a memorable story to tell, one for the books. Embrace it, live it, and smile on!