It’s clear that senior year for the class of 2020 is vastly different from anything we expected. Most of us saw the last quarter of senior year as a traditional, celebratory culmination of all the work we’ve put in the past 13 years, the kind we always hear our parents and older siblings reminisce about. It would be hallmarked by prom, the last day of classes, family coming to visit to celebrate, and of course, graduation. For the class of 2020, not all of this is the case. But perhaps unexpectedly for some, much of it was. Although I cannot speak for each member of this graduating class, I can confidently say that if we just throw out the word “traditional” from that description, this senior year has reached all those expectations in a wholly unique and beautifully original way.

For prom, my wonderful family decorated the backyard with twinkle lights, stringing them from one side of the house to the other. They lit candles and played music and arranged beautiful bouquets of fresh flowers, and they even made a take-out order from In-N-Out look as classy as any prom night dinner out could. They made that night absolutely amazing.

The last day of classes was perhaps a bit less iconic. It was a Thursday and I have no idea what I did that day if I’m honest. But the meaning of it, of saying goodbye to your friends and your teachers, of closing off that chapter of our lives – that moment of meaning will still come, because this unpredicted time apart has renewed our commitment to meet up and connect with the people who have shaped our high school lives whenever it becomes socially responsible to do so. And that time will come.

Graduation is one of those rare times when family and loved ones all come together to one place to celebrate and share a major defining experience together. My siblings were going to make the trip to come visit and my grandparents were going to fly in from their home in Eastern Canada. Evidently, cross-border travel was not an option and inter-state travel was limited. However, I have been blessed with the time to reconnect with my brother and sister-in-law who are quarantining with us until their home city stabilizes, and we have had the most time together we have ever had in the past decade. They have been here for prom, for graduation, and we have celebrated all of those defining experiences together as a family.

I have not yet had the pleasure of experiencing drive-through graduation, but wearing the cap and gown, being in the presence of loved ones and the teachers who have guided us, and walking across the stage and picking up that well-earned diploma will all undoubtedly culminate in a special moment that celebrates all the work that has been put in these last 13 years, even if it ends with rushing back in the car after the allotted two minutes have passed.

The end to this senior year has been different. All the parts that define it, the hallmarks of this time of our lives, are taking form in a different order, in a different way. But eschewing the traditional does not in any way dull the happiness and beauty of this time in our lives and those moments that define it. Instead, it has reaffirmed that as we make our way into the next phase of life, we may do it entirely differently, even completely out of order, but that does not by any means dull its brilliance, beauty, and meaning.

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