This isn’t how your senior year was supposed to end.
It’s not how you visualized it as you grew up through our school system. You saw the classes before you check off item after item from their checklists as high school seniors.
Final dinner theater performance for choir? Check. Senior musical? Check. Senior class trip? Check. Prom? Check. Your final dance recital? Check. Graduation practice? Check.
We had a shared vision of what your graduation would look like. We’d see your whole class march into the gym together, a cohesive unit one last time.
You’d confidently march across the stage, accept your diploma and walk off the other side as an adult ready for what’s next in life. You thought you’d get one last chance to hug your classmates — friends and foes alike — and start your own unique journey.
I would’ve thought about all the challenges you’ve already faced in your life.
Your first few years, you were fatherless. Your mother did her best to raise you, and you had a wonderful life. But still, there was something missing. Once your mom and I started dating and fell in love, you let me into your life. I still get a little teary any time I think about that time I tucked you in and you said, “I love you, Dad.” I could’ve been David for the rest of your life, but you let me be Dad instead. I love when we celebrate our adopt-a-versary every November.
Perhaps the defining moment for most people in your life was when they rushed you to a hospital in Columbus after we learned you had Type 1 diabetes. We all had a lot to learn about that obnoxious disease, from counting carbohydrates to being honest about what snacks you were sneaking so you could take appropriate carbohydrates.
To me, though, the most telling part of that horrible week was when we got home in time so you could perform in the dance recital. You told everyone in that hospital you needed to be out in time for that recital. You were doing great in your dance routine until you tripped and fell. Everyone who knew you’d been hospitalized held their breath when they saw you topple.
Then you got up. You just kept going.
I know how hard you’ve worked your senior year, preparing for college and what comes next. You impressed us with your fight to bring up your grades, making the honor roll for the first time in your life in your final year of school, then repeating the feat.
Then the coronavirus pandemic hit, and everything upended. You went from dreaming about being a teacher to filling the role of one, helping your sister in kindergarten with her schoolwork while we worked during the day. You picked up some additional shifts at your job at the convenience store, saving up for college and a better car. You still found time for your family, friends and your boyfriend.
I know this isn’t how your senior year was supposed to end, with a graduation in a parking lot and everyone socially distanced at least 6 feet apart. I never visualized being a dozen rows of cars back from the stage, struggling to see you.
But for all that’s changed, some things haven’t. When life hit you, you got up. You just kept going. And for that, and a million other little reasons, I’m proud to be your dad, and I’m proud of my grad.