Just like that, your senior year is done. Your online classes will be the execution of tasks completed without enthusiasm; you will get it done. You will take the pass and collect your diploma. But your final semester, the grand hurrah that was to be, will pass with the cloud of COVID 19 hanging over your head. We could not have planned for this. There is no blueprint to tell us which way to go, which direction will lead us out. And for that, I am sorry.
I am sorry that the moments you anticipated will not happen as expected. I am sorry that the months you could have had with friends are cut short, abruptly stolen by a virus that is keeping you at a distance. I am sorry that the event of graduation may not be the pomp and circumstance, the cap and gown, the silly string, the honors, the speeches. I am sorry that these emotions have been forced upon you - that the news has slammed into you like a door loose on its hinges.
Feel the emotions, all of them. Be upset, hurt, disappointed, relieved, anxious. Be everything, all at once, every day, and we will give you space. Be nothing, mopey and forlorn, and we will wait for you. We will provide you with grace. It is the least we can do.
Recognize the moment for just that, a specific amount of time that is unreal and altered. You are not alone in this. This moment will not follow you wherever life takes you next year. This semester will not determine your future. It will be the same for everyone, everywhere - you will band together as the class of 2020, one common thread, one fight, one invisible enemy.
When the light returns, and we are allowed to hug again, find your friends. Run to them, embrace them, remind them of the memories made, not the ones lost. When we can gather again, and we will, there will be parties with too much food and with friends that became family, there will be sitting around the fire at night swatting at mosquitos, there will be early mornings when you wish you could sleep in like you did these last few weeks. When we can hold hands again, and we will, hang on tight to those that helped you through, those that squeezed you when the ride got wild, the hills too high, the valleys too low. Hang on to the ones that answered your texts, returned your calls, let you vent, let you swear, let you be.
Just like that, my senior, you will be free of these four walls that have confined you for a month now. You will be off on adventures that will bring a slew of emotions rival to those of today. Feel the emotions, all of them. Be nervous, fantastic, excited, afraid. Be everything, all at once, every day, you will have your space. Be smart, kind, and generous, life will not wait for you. Allow yourself grace. It is the least you can do.
My senior year did not end because of a pandemic. My graduation, however, due to forces beyond our control, did not occur. I remember driving to the school, and picking up my diploma at the front door. It is a part of my history just as this pandemic will be written in the lives of these students. With a little bit of grace, we will all get through this and be ok.