Today should have been her prom.
But instead, she is in the car with her father, taking her first trip outside these walls since March. A ride to the store is a treat that brought a tear to her eyes tonight.
We offered to do the whole prom at home thing that is sweeping the interwebs, but she is just too sad.
For her, a substitute doesn’t bring comfort. Her dad’s offer of sushi brought a smile to her face so off she went, wearing her mask and holding her dad’s hand.
Today we once again we were called to give our tall girl a hug of sympathy. Once again we say, “I’m so sorry. I just hate this for you.” Once again there is nothing we can do or promise to make up for what she has lost.
We hug her just as we hugged our oldest when she found out she couldn’t go back to college.
And again when they broke down after seeing their friends on her computer screen.
And again every time we talk about how the year might look different next year.
And we hug them when a wave of missing their friends hits them particularly hard.
Or when they just want to be able to ask their teacher or professor for help in person when online learning becomes way too frustrating.
Or when they wonder when they will be able to go back to their jobs so they can save for cars they are desperate to need again or trips they want to take with their choir group or tuition bills that need to be paid.
We look at a prom dress covered in plastic in the closet and backpacks that haven’t left the house in weeks and the car keys that are always, always hanging up where they belong and these things can bring tears at any given moment.
I am so grateful for the extra time with these beautiful, amazing, and fun tall kids. We get more time with these blessings.
But in our gains, we can’t deny what they have lost.
Over and over and over they seem to lose.
They pick themselves up. They do their online schooling. They Snapchat with friends. They watch movies as a family and help clean the kitchen.
They keep on going.
They are sad and they are strong.
So we need to give them the gift of acknowledging their losses. We need to be so careful not to play the “Well at least….” game.
There is no comparing what they are losing.
Our kids have all lost something…our bigs and our littles.
Missing graduation from kindergarten or high school or missing your fourth grade trip to the capital or your junior prom or missing your sport or your school play or even just missing the safety of going to school each day, these losses cannot be tallied and quantified and compared.
A hurting heart is a hurting heart. Each is entitled to grieve their losses without a drop of guilt. Full stop.
And at the same time, our parent hearts hurt for them whether they lost a year of kindergarten or their senior year of high school. We are entitled to grieve this too. No guilt.
When our kids hurt so do we.
And so we hug them. We tell them we love them and that we hate this for them.
And we hold their hand and take them for grocery store sushi because it is all we can do.
All we can do is let them be sad. We can’t make up for their losses. But we can love them through it all.