A senior year is a very special thing for high school students. As a teacher, it’s my joy to celebrate alongside the students and their families. We cheer through the lasts. The last first day of school. The last sports season. The last tests. All culminating in the joy of graduation.
Since I work with grades 6 through 12, it’s not uncommon for a senior year to be the seventh one I’ve taught that student. I know them and they know me. We’ve spent almost half their birthdays together. Maybe we’ve driven through the night to teen camp a few times. All my students mean something to me, but we hold the seniors a little closer to our hearts throughout their final year.
We celebrate the lasts when we can because it helps us through life’s transitions. Seasons change. Children grow. Time and tide wait for no man. While we rejoice at new stages, we’re also a little sad to see something beloved and familiar come to an end. It’s proper to acknowledge there’s some grief alongside the happiness.
This year we’ve unfortunately had a lot of injuries among our senior girls, and I’ve found myself thinking that so many lasts already happened and we didn’t know it at the time. The last time we saw her serve a volleyball with her cannon of an arm. The last time we saw her grab a rebound or score a basket. These came and went without the usual chance to mark the occasion. Our girls have amazing attitudes even through their disappointment, setting a wonderful example by continuing to cheer for their teammates.
These unknown lasts sneak up on us. We can be caught off guard by the changeability and fragility of life. Relationships shift before we realize we’ve had our last conversation. Health crises come before we can grasp that this may be our last time to do an activity or give a hug or make a memory.
One of my family members was placed on hospice this week. It was unexpected and our hearts are hurting. So many lasts already happened and we didn’t know it at the time.
Life is short. I know it’s been a very rough and weary season for all of us, but I hope you’re also finding ways to celebrate the joys in your life. The firsts. The lasts. The everyday. It is worth marking occasions, even in simple ways, because they may not come around again. Give your loved one an extra hug. Savor a simple beauty. Rejoice in this day that the Lord has made. There will never be another one exactly like it.
Prayers for my family are appreciated. I’m so thankful we have the Lord’s comfort to lean upon during hard times.