The months of May and June have come and gone. And with that, I breathe a sigh of relief. You see, these months are graduation months. Months of celebrations for young people who are graduating and moving on to the next new thing.
While I am happy for all of these young people … the season still sends signals of sadness to my brain and heart. I don’t want to be misunderstood here. I WANT to hear about the graduation of your sons and daughters. So I am not in any way asking to be taken off of your mailing list. I am just thinking “out loud.” It is not anyone’s fault that my 17-year-old son, Beau, passed away in a car crash only 8 days into his senior year.
But for those of us who live without our child having graduated from high school due to their untimely death, regardless of circumstance, it is just sad for us. The first year without him, we had to leave town during various seasons. We left town during the Prom season AND stayed off social media. During the graduation season, we did the same.
So with all this said, I want to THANK you for sending graduation announcements to us, as this is GREAT news! But I also ask for your understanding and forgiveness that we cannot attend the party/celebration.
I had an envelope in our safe at the start of Beau’s senior year in which I started to save money for his graduation celebration. At the point of his departure from this life, I had saved a whopping $25. Over the course of the year, I had a plan to put away $25 to $50 each month so that we could have a fun celebration for him. His wish was that he could have a party with his friends. A combined celebration, of sorts, with four or five of his pals at Fox Run or Dirty Woman Part in our town of Monument, Colorado. You see, he did not want us to have a party just for him at our house as we had done for our girls in 2010 and 2012. That sounded too dull to him. He wanted to celebrate with his friends, and their families AND with our friends and family. So we said “Sure, no problem.” I had also saved some banners from previous parties that said “Congratulations Graduate!” etc. in my basement for that wonderful time in Beau’s and our life. That envelope still sits in my safe with the $25 inside because, like a lot of things, I just do not have it in me to get rid of it. The banners, however, I disposed.
Beau had plans. In elementary school, he planned to become a Special Education Teacher. In high school, he had plans to become a Social Studies teacher. More recently, he had plans to get out of the house just like many young people and go to college. When I was that age, I left at 18 years old and went off to Colorado State University in Fort Collins, Colorado. It was a wonderful time in my life that I will never forget and will always cherish. So I could totally relate to Beau’s excitement about leaving the nest and being independent. He probably had other thoughts in his wild mind about not having us down his throat about where he was going and when he would be home and what he was putting on social media and the dirty, wet towels on the floor and his messy bathroom. The bottom line, however, was that he had plans. Plans to be on his own. At the time just before his leaving us, he and I got on the website of Colorado Mountain College (CMC). Beau was not the scholarly type who studied incessantly. He did not care as much about his grades as I did. He was completely content to skate by with C’s. Even D’s did not seem to faze him, much to the chagrin of his teacher mother. The grades that he had were not up to par to attend CU Boulder, CSU Fort Collins, or the like. So I thought CMC would be the perfect choice for him. We searched for the different majors, the requirements, the tuition, etc. One of the fields of study at the Steamboat location was Snowboard Management. That fit the bill for him at that time and it became his plan to apply there in the near future. Yes, he might have changed his mind during the course of the year to attend a different school or study something else, but we will never know. The near future never came for him. His plans to attend college and leave the coop never became his reality. Nor ours.
When Beau first died (even that is STILL hard to say!), Don and I called it The Great Sadness. A part of us died that day too. His death threw us both completely off course and while we are “better” (whatever that means), we will never be completely back on course. Never. Yes, we live. We get out of bed. We go to work. We function and perform with surprising success. We put smiles on our faces. But we will never be the same.
So parents, thank you for understanding! We are happy … so happy for your child!!! Leaving the nest to embark on the future is a good thing. This is what should happen! Kids should graduate and there should be a celebration! We wish your children all the happiness heaven can muster. Truly.
But now it is July, and we move on. Another graduation season has ended. Another one will happen again. We know. In the meanwhile, we guard ourselves. That is our reality.
Thank you for understanding and please don’t take us off your mailing list.