Life throws us curveballs sometimes and we have to adapt to move forward through difficult circumstances. In the throes of uncertainty, we wobble around to grasp a "plan B" to tide us over as we seek to control tricky situations.
Sometimes we experience a local disaster that disrupts our daily routines and annual milestones. Last year's flooding of the Arkansas River ended our boys' school year two days early. My son drove home and said, "this feels weird."
That's what a lack of closure feels like...ending something abruptly without being able to complete all the usual connections. My son didn't have the typical sense of completion upon finishing a school year. He felt restless, like he was missing something. Those loose ends dangled for a while, blurring the transition into summer in an unusual way.
That "100-year flood" was a tangible phenomenon that our community could rally against. We had concrete ways to take action.
Instead of taking final exams, my boys filled sand bags to help local people protect their homes and businesses.
The impact of the flood's disruption gradually faded as the waters receded. Summer tromped on.
We had no idea that last year's experience was just a "blip" of a disruption compared to what my son's senior year would end like this year. Students were dismissed for spring break with a recommendation to take their chrome books and belongings home because the break might be extended another week due to a "novel coronavirus" that was beginning to hit our country. That extension swelled into two weeks, then led to an announcement that all schools were shifting to "distance learning" for the remainder of the school year.
The typical senior year revelry got washed away in an instant.
No prom. No graduation. No senior award ceremonies. No spring sports. No end-of-the-year banquets to celebrate extracurricular activities. No final weeks for seniors to roam the halls and savor the culmination of their high school memories.
My momma heart broke for my son who had been having such a wonderful year, reaping the fruit of his hard work and leadership that he had been quietly stewarding throughout high school. I grieved for all those lost experiences.
Did he falter or grumble about how unfair this was? Nope. He rallied like a champ and embraced the changes like it was just another adventure. His peers did much the same thing, wading into online classes and independent learning with tenacity. Their educational "plan B" was not expected or ideal, but they rose to the challenge.
As we tried to wrap our minds around the #shelterinplace protocols, we reframed our perspective to see this as "bonus" family time. Our boys slept, ate, read, did e-learning, and ate again. We played games. We watched movies. We took long bike rides and walks. So many walks.
We had to enact "quaranteen" procedures for our other son who came home from college early due to the pandemic shutting down his DC internship.
We cleaned and disinfected every surface.
We polished our hospitality skills as we provided him with room service until his quarantine was over.
We monitored the news and hunkered down.
It felt like we were "on alert" for the next upheaval, constantly adjusting to the ebb and flow of #quarantinelife.
Rarely do we have a national tsunami that hits us over and over again in powerful waves of negative news, surging over and over again with tales of illness, death, grief and concern for our general well-being. The ripple effects of loss and disruption will continue for a long time, some identified and others yet unnamed but felt to our core in a vague, unsettled way.
That "weird feeling" echoes throughout our communities as we all experience a lack of closure for so many activities and life events. The pandemic has shaken things up in ways our generation has never experienced.
Yet for this particular class of high school and college seniors, the pandemic underscores life lessons that will always unite this particular group of young adults - - - shaping their future beliefs, perspective, and missions in life.
I'm hopeful they will rise up with an outlook of hope and a desire to enact change for the better. With their whole perspective thrown into a whirlwind, may they learn to look for the blessings in the storm and be able to focus on what truly matters.