It's that time of year. School is out for the summer, pretty much everywhere now. Over the past few weeks, I've been seeing a steady stream of "last day" photos (when I was a kid, we had first day photos & that was it, but nevermind...), prom photos, year-end recital and sports banquet photos, junior kindergarten graduation photos, kindergarten graduation photos, sixth grade graduation photos, junior high graduation photos, high school graduation photos, university graduation photos (including my own nephew's). Parents posting on Facebook with hashtags that say "soproud" and "growinguptoofast" with sad face emoticons.
Watching from the sidelines, those of us who have lost children, those of us who wanted to be parents but aren't, are watching with a mixture of pride (for the achievements of those kids we know & love), bemusement ("get a grip, mom & dad"), sadness, and yes, a little envy.
I understand that sensation of time passing by way too quickly, a little. It doesn't seem that long ago that our nephew was an adorable, chubby, curly-headed toddler with a soother that seemed permanently stuck in his mouth. And now he's a towering six-feet-something tall, embarking on a new job and saving up to buy his girlfriend an engagement ring. Yikes! (We weren't able to attend his convocation -- not enough tickets -- but we were still able to watch him cross the stage and receive his diploma via webcast. Three cheers for technology!!)
But as another babyloss mom has said (in words to this effect), "I really wish people wouldn't say stuff like 'I wish they could just stay little forever.' Believe me, you really don't wish that. I will never see my son's first day of school, or last day or school, or graduation, or wedding. I will never get to see him grow up. At all."
This September, my daughter would have been entering her last year of high school. Turning 17 in November.
This time next year, I will be looking at my friends' & relatives' photos of their sons & daughters (at least five or six kids that I can think of, offhand, whose moms' pregnancies overlapped mine with Katie) attending prom, attending graduation, receiving awards, posing with proud parents & grandparents, discussing their plans for the future, talking about university and community college in the fall.
There are many things about the bereaved parent experience that I've learned to grin & bear, to shrug off, that I've gotten used to, developed coping strategies to handle. Showers, birthday parties, first communions, weddings, Halloween, Christmas -- occasionally, I will have a difficult moment, but these things generally sting far less than they once did.
I don't think this is going to be one of those things.
I am not looking forward to it.
You can find more of this week's #MicroblogMondays posts here.