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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  • S

    SheriMar 21, 2020 at 12:06 PM

    Beautiful article! Made me cry to think of the lost memories for you and my senior living here at home. Trying to make the best of the situation. Prom may be here in our living room with his guest, but I’m determined to make it one of his best nights yet!!
    “A sad mother”!

    Reply
  • Molly KerrMar 21, 2020 at 10:46 AM

    So well written, Hana. I wish I was able to hug you in English class on Monday for such an achievement of conveying what so many of the seniors feel. However, I send you my love this way! You are so sweet, and I hope that this virus somehow brings us all closer together relationally through our shared feelings and hardships. We can trust that God will bring us all through these confusing circumstances.

    Reply
  • C

    Callie ShellMar 21, 2020 at 9:57 AM

    Hana – beautifully written. You and The Tribal Tribune staff are amazing. I hope more parents read and follow all of the work you all do. I know the end of this senior year is so unfair but the friendships you and the staff have made will live on for years to come. I am so proud to know each of you and to have watch you work. Our world is and will be a better place thanks to your generation. Please promise that you guys as a staff will keep talking and connecting with each other. Friendships are stronger than this virus. Together you guys rule!

    Reply
  • M

    Melissa Clark ButtsMar 21, 2020 at 8:33 AM

    Hana
    This is very wise. The idea of shared loneliness is the human condition, the notion that we are all actually always alone and forced to reconcile it with our desire to busy ourselves and be part of community and not actually acknowledge the loneliness… But you nailed it. Alone with free time and walks on the beach that we may never have otherwise taken… making connections. How fortunate we are that this is our experience. Because not far from where we breath in and out the grief of our collective missed milestones, shuttered behind protective gear are people dying alone. The aloneness, the shared aloneness, let’s meet it with a more intentional desire to make sure those we miss, those who have no one to miss them, feel less alone. Your senior year may be the most remarkable milestone in a century, one where we stare at the condition of humanity and collectively say, you are not alone.

    Reply
  • J

    Jeannie FoxMar 20, 2020 at 8:51 PM

    Brutiful. Brutal to think of the the uncertainty and activities, events, sports, etc being cancelled and businesses losing money, and people actually getting – not to mention dying -from – this. And, yet, your post is beautiful.. Beautifully written and brilliantly finding the positives this time is creating. One thing is for sure. This year will be unforgettable. Keep making memories. Keep living life. Keep being strong. 💗🦊

    Reply
  • G

    Giselle CheesemanMar 20, 2020 at 11:45 AM

    Beautiful and heart-breaking and true.

    Reply
  • E

    EllenMar 20, 2020 at 8:14 AM

    Hana that is beautiful. What great writing, and so thoughtful. I can’t imagine how many “loses “ you seniors are dealing with, but your perspective should be encouraging for all! I know your parents must be so proud of you. Remember that God is a perfect plan for you, even in this. Thanks for sharing this.

    Reply