Spring Comes Slowly...
Spring comes slowly to March, picking up speed in April, and careening through May with ever-rising temperatures. But there is more to this season than emerging flowers and budding trees. Spring also holds traditions, customs so bone-deep in our social DNA that I barely noticed their existence until 2020 snatched them away from my child.
March brought the National Dance Team Competition. My daughter was the senior captain, and this was her high school’s first shot at the title. All the hours of practice and aching muscles and clashing personalities of twenty-odd teenage girls earned them this breathtaking opportunity. So much anticipation and hope . . . so many birds poised to take flight. . .
So many wings deftly clipped by a tiny virus from China.
Although there would be no “next year”, my daughter bore the cancellation of the competition well and focused on the future. But April brought the loss of a planned mission trip to Appalachia even as spring break snapped its tether—two weeks stretched into three, then four, as we held our breaths that classes would resume and that a beautiful dress would not go unworn.
In May, the authorities canceled school for the rest of the year. There was no graduation ceremony. There was no prom, either. Shrouded in plastic, my daughter’s cap and gown hung limply next to the beautiful, unworn dress, mute testimony to memories that would never be made. And still, my daughter bore it well.
Then came the day we drove through a line where a masked staff member passed a yearbook through the window.
My child looked down at its pristine pages—pages that would never be covered with doodles and sentiments, both silly and sincere—pages bereft of the last messages of her childhood friends and favorite teachers—pages she could never traverse in the future, delighting in the forgotten memories jarred loose by each writer’s scrawl—she looked down at those pristine pages and wept.
Deborah Nolan is a writer living in Indiana.