A picture popped up on my Facebook page today—”Your Memories” they call it—and under the picture were the words, “Three years ago today.” It was a picture of my husband, myself, and our middle son on his senior day for college lacrosse.
I smiled, enjoying all the memories. We all looked so happy. It was a beautiful sun-soaked day. And while I don’t remember what the final score was I do remember the feelings. So many, so mixed. An era was ending, but it was a wonderful era indeed.
And then I thought of all the parents and student athletes in high schools and colleges around the country who, through no fault of their own, will not experience this day, or these emotions. They won’t have pictures to mark the end of their era, no Facebook memories jumping out at them years later.
What can we say to all of you? Really, there are no words.
There are no words, but there is hope.
I hope that in some way the universe will make this up to you.
I hope you know that we, the parents and student athletes who have gone before you, know how hard you have worked to get here. The sweat, the aches, the pains, the nerves, the sacrifices, the time. So much time, the weeks, the months, the years.
I hope you know that we know how much you looked forward to your senior year.
I hope you know that we know how much you miss being with your teammates, working out together, pushing each other, encouraging each other to do one more sprint, to do one more lift, to take one more shot.
I hope you know that we know how much you miss the locker room celebration after a win and a teammate’s pat on the shoulder after a tough loss.
I hope you know that we know how much you looked forward to being a role model for the underclassman. To the captains, we know how much you miss leading your team.
I hope you know that we think about you a lot these days. We think about what it must be like for you. And we think about how fortunate we were, and what it would have been like for us. I hope you know that while we cannot feel your pain, you have our empathy.
I hope you know that we believe that somehow, some way, this will make you stronger. Maybe not today, tomorrow or even next year. But it will. Because we know you are strong, mentally and physically. You have to be, otherwise you would not be a senior athlete.
I hope you know this strength will serve you well in the future. After all, there will be future disappointments and you will be better equipped to handle them.
I hope your coaches and your schools find a way to celebrate you and your efforts.
And senior parents, we hope you know we haven’t forgotten you. We know how much you too looked forward to this season.
I hope you know we know it’s your turn to proudly escort your senior across the field, the court, the track. We know how many years you sat in stands and celebrated other seniors and their parents. We hope you know that we know it’s your turn.
I hope you know we know how many meals have been delayed, eaten late or on the run to get your athlete to a practice or a game.
I hope you know we know how many hours you spent waiting in your car for practice to be over and for the bus to return from an away game.
I hope you know we know how you sat in the stands at a spring sport, wrapped in blankets, holding an umbrella, and cursing the spring weather that brought freezing cold and rain instead of sunshine and warmth.
I hope you know we know that for so many years you felt the pain each time your athlete fell to the ground, grabbed an ankle or a wrist, and sat with an icepack on the bench. We know this year was your year to look back on all those times and smile, because you all made it.
I hope you know that all over the country you are being celebrated. You are being honored by all of us, parents and athletes alike who have gone before you. You can’t hear us, or see us, but we’re out here cheering for you. A lot of us.
I hope you know.