I knew it was coming. Senior Night. A few months ago the schedule for the marching band season was released and there it was. It was supposed to be tonight but due to a miserable forecast for tonight it was moved to last night (thankfully!).
This is one of those milestones I had been dreading. Much like other milestones it is something that happens for his friends, but not for him. It is so hard to want to feel happy for those friends but at the same time sad and angry that he didn’t get a chance to be a senior.
So last night I knew they would mention him, but it was my choice whether or not I wanted to go on the field with the other seniors and their parents. I chose to sit in the stands. Before the game Mr. Nash gave Gabe’s dad and I the same flower given to the other seniors (hello, tears!) and we waited. After everyone was lined up they began and this is how Gabe was recognized:
Gabe Chester. . . .
Tonight we honor Gabe. This would have been the start of his senior year, but Gabe was taken from us in his freshman year. Gabe gave all of himself in everything he did and was a great friend to everyone he knew. Gabe was a member of the Marching Knights’ pit percussion section and was also involved in the Boy Scouts, theater production and loved to skateboard around Dayton. He is truly missed.
It was sad and as perfect as anything can be in that situation. I was glad I didn’t go down onto the field. It would have been far more painful to stand there without my child in front of me as everyone else was recognized, their future plans announced along with their names.
This is the start of some very difficult things. Soon it will be graduation, and then his friends will go to college. Then the rest of life will continue on for them. Those things will be so painful. But as with everything else we will muddle through and somehow survive.
Today I placed his carnation on his headstone. So very different than the future I wanted for him, but I’m still thankful for those 15 years and the impact he made.