As a parent, we celebrate milestones. First time rolling over, walking, and words when very young. Then we enter into drivers licences, exams, and first kisses. A big milestone is the graduation of high school. We anticipate it, we grow nervous about it, we celebrate it.
This past June, Valin completed high school. Although he thought it wasn’t a big deal, we were so excited for him. For the diploma, for the grad party and the start of new adventures. We celebrated Valin becoming an adult, knowing his independence will soon flourish.
But there was also that knot in my gut. Although he had his parents, grandparents and all his aunts and uncles cheering him on, one person was not there. He never had those late night talks with Madox about his fears with graduating. No discussions with his brother about what he should do with his life after high school. Missing, was the laughter after the grad party with things that were seen and done. No photos with just the brothers or our family after the ceremony. A significant hole was not only left in us as parents, but also in Valin. We had seen his sadness from time to time, with him verbalizing once that he wished Madox was here. Even though there was nothing Marco or I could have done, it still breaks us that we couldn’t fix the outcome.
Now he has moved on to university, knowing there will be a new celebration for us to look forward to. Unfortunately, I can’t help but think about what this upcoming school year should signify. Madox should be graduating. Class of 2023! No anticipation. No nervousness. No celebration. Starting in September, there was already fundraising for the upcoming grads. Fundraising I won’t be participating in. Excitement with fellow moms I won’t be feeling. Despite being so happy and excited for all of Madox’s friends, a part of me is jealous. Envious. Angry. I initially felt bad about feeling this way, but I decided I was allowed. We are so lucky to have celebrated with Valin. I still feel robbed we don’t have a second, owed celebration we deserved with Madox.
So I will succumb to my mixed emotions. I will cry in sadness and in happiness. I will participate in the fundraising, but to support rather than raise. I will listen to my fellow moms excitement. I will look at photos when their children pick that perfect dress or suit. I will celebrate this milestone with them, while keeping Madox’s memory and ‘what-ifs’ deep in my heart. June 2023 will be difficult. I will get through it. Like I always have and always will.
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