Grieving senior year

March 19, 2020

I remember being a little girl, 4 years old, and looking out towards the large plastic “bubble” in the wall at Seacoast church. 

A kid’s head stared back at me from inside the odd, plastic protrusion poking out of the drywall. It was attached to the very top of the indoor playground, and kids could crawl out to look at the walkway. 

I wondered how many more years I had left before church wouldn’t be a playground with a wall bubble, and a stage with people pretending to be shepherds and old men. When it would be a man reading from a book while we sat in hard, metal chairs to listen to him. 

I counted. Both hands, one repeating three fingers. Thirteen. Thirteen years. 

Thirteen years later I am here, and the world that I had thought I would be in no longer exists. 

Colleges that had once offered to pay me to attend them have now closed their doors. Spring break was supposed to entail a trip to Colorado to see them. Now that’s gone. 

The steaming heat from the swarming rectangular mass of people, surrounded by strobe lights and loud music may never be felt again. The fate of prom remains unknown.  

Feeling the breeze of the Mediterranean ripple my blue and white shirt on Greek night may remain just a fantasy. My senior trip to Europe, the one my family and I have been paying for the past two years, will likely be cancelled.

English teacher Giselle Cheeseman’s classroom has a poster that says: Seniors know, and they know they know.

But right now, we can’t even gather in a group greater than 10 to celebrate our knowing, and our transition into adulthood. 

And so I grieve for the memories that we lose on the grounds of Wando High School. We’re not getting this time in our lives back. We need to accept becoming the generation — the senior class — of loose ends. 

Yet during this time of no school, I hope we can find a way to make memories that are beyond the confines of a classroom. 

I haven’t taken more afternoon walks on the beach in such a short time frame before now. 

Shared loneliness and free time during distancing has given me freedom to connect with the people, without whom, my world will not be full next year. The excuse “I have a full schedule” doesn’t apply any more. 

It is definitely within our best interest to become active about wrapping up senior year now. Start making the final memories of childhood while it is still possible. 

Our generation is experiencing the loss of finality, but we still have each other. 

For the next few months, remind your friends of how much they’ve impacted you. Molded you into who you are. Social distancing does not have to mean emotional distancing. 

Remember that grieving for something you’ve worked — quite genuinely — your entire life for is okay. It’s normal. 

And remember that, even though we’re losing part of our senior year, we’re gaining many more opportunities to make it one-of-a-kind. So go make some memories. 

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