The B16 Finish

Joe DeNardo, Chief Editor

Senior year—one thought.

The end is near.

Eighteen years of youth have led up to this point—the warmest handshake you’ll ever get.

The anticipation keeps you up at night—freedom is the alluring word. College is another big one—if I had a dollar for every time I heard the phrase:

“College is about to be so (insert bro adjective here.)”

And then one night I heard my Mom softly weeping in the living room. It’s late so I don’t draw too much attention to myself. Slowly I tip-toe down the hall and peer to see what’s going on and then I saw it.

She’s looking at my elementary school photos that were taken on all the field trips and during the holiday parties where all the other Moms would volunteer to serve snacks for the kids. I’ve seen those pictures too. I was so cute back then—an overjoyed smile that would brighten up her day instantly when I would come home.

Where did it all go?

In the place of that adorable kid is a giant by-comparison. Yet somehow, the heart didn’t seem to grow as much as the body because instead of being the always cheerful kid I once was, now I am a frequent defiant who thinks he knows everything. Every day is a shift between living in the moment and looking toward the future.

It took me seeing my mom in tears reminiscing to finally understand that graduation isn’t about seniors—it’s about the people who got them there.

I dream about crossing that stage like a prisoner in the last days of his sentence. The ceremony, the emotions, and the friends we’ll never forget. While I pose for pictures with my peers, my parents will be standing aside having a rush of emotions very different than mine. Emptying the nest—the key word of course is empty. Wherever any child may go, they take a piece of their parent’s hearts with them, like a tattoo of morals and memories. I can only imagine how it will be when I’m a parent—sitting there not even thinking eighteen years could go by so quickly and before I know it I’m watching my son walk across that stage.

I blame college—spending grotesque amounts of time fretting over the future only accelerates what time we actually get to spend together. Put easily, if the only time I get to spend with my kid during high school is spent disciplining them or helping them plan for college, then I’ll feel I’ve failed as a parent.

My pastor often brings up how parenthood is a season of life. I interpreted that in a very literal manner—raising an infant is the spring, with its bright colors and blooming life. Adolescence is summer, with flaring temperatures and memories ingrained eternally under a night sky. Middle age is the fall, where we begin to wither away until we slip into the quiet winter.

This year—and all the grime and drama that may come with it—is more than just a year; it’s life. A life caught somewhere between beginning and ending that up to this point has been the most spectacular thing you’ll ever experience. What’s the best part about it? You’ve spent it with the people who have persevered through with you guiding you to this point. That cap & gown, that diploma, that handshake—it isn’t yours; it’s theirs. All of them—they deserve the recognition for getting you to this point.
So enjoy the big finish but don’t forget to thank all the people who’ve set you on the right path to the rest of your life. The hard work they’ve invested in you is beyond comprehension—and that’s a blessing that may be hidden, but shouldn’t go unnoticed.