My middle son recently finished his Junior year of high school. Like any other teenager, he is looking forward to Senior year and further yet…. to college. While I am in no way ready for a second birdie to leave my nest, I am looking forward to making my way through his final year at home. I have dubbed this year, “The Year of Lasts.” There are so many things he will do this year for the last time that it deserves this title.
In the fall, he will have his last, first day of school. Every year since he was in preschool, I have taken a picture of him in his fresh school uniform, new school shoes and backpack on his back. I have a record of his growth and maturity through these pictures chronicling his progress from nervous and teary eyed preschooler to a taller and much more confident high schooler. This year he will also have his final picture day at school. I will place this school portrait on the mantle knowing that he will forever be stuck in time as a senior.
This school year will be chock full of “lasts.” He will attend his last homecoming dance and last school retreat. He will have his last chance at making it to the state tournament on the tennis team and he will take his girlfriend to their last prom. There will be plenty of “lasts” at home too. It’s likely this will be the last birthday that he celebrates with us at home and possibly the last Easter we spend all together as a family. We will watch the Superbowl together for the last time and this will be the last year that he will drive his little brother to school.
Now I know you are probably thinking that I am focusing on all the things that are ending when I really should be looking forward to all the new beginnings that go along with graduating and going off to college. You are right, however, I am dwelling on purpose. I am being intentionally sentimental, deliberately saccharine, and knowingly nostalgic. The way I see it, If I attend to and fully celebrate each “last” I will have spent a year completely engaged and rooted in the here and now. If I take note of each of these moments, they won’t escape me and when the year ends, I won’t be caught off guard asking where did the time go?
I know it is good to look forward to the future and all the firsts that are to come and I intend to do that in due time but not before I savor all the lasts. I won’t be pining over the fact that these are the last times he will be doing these things but rather I will be enjoying them intentionally so that his last year of high school doesn’t go by without notice. On his graduation day I won’t feel empty with sadness, I will be full of all the wonderful “lasts” that I have treasured and tucked away this year to be remembered forever. When this year of lasts is over, It’s then that I’ll be ready to look to new beginnings and what the future has in store for my son. There is a saying that goes “Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.” I’m sure there will still be plenty of tears but I know I will also be smiling because of all the great “lasts” that we celebrated.