Dear Emelie:

I’m writing this letter to congratulate you, my daughter, on your graduation from high school this year. In doing so, I also want to apologize for any typos that appear in this letter. After all, it’s hard to type when your keyboard has teardrops on it.

Some of the tears come from sadness. It’s hard not to be emotional thinking about all the things COVID-19 and the stay-at-home order have stolen from you seniors. Spring sports and arts were abruptly canceled – I know you would have “broken a leg” in LILA’s spring theater production. I cannot imagine you will be allowed to have a prom, and even graduation is up in the air.

If that is not bad enough, your senior class will miss the “last times” for things such as a last class that was your favorite, as well as your last sporting event or choir performance.

Worst of all, you will miss things that may not make sense to you now, but will in the future. For example, your teachers in the final weeks of your high school career take on a different importance as they begin to treat you like a peer, and they often salute seniors preparing to spread their wings and leave the nest.

Sigh. Hang on a moment. I need to wipe the keyboard dry.

But, if I’m being honest, some of the tears I shed as I write this are tears of joy.

After all, this is an unforgettable time for you and your fellow seniors. If you did not realize that, look no further than your name: The Class of 2020. You will never forget that this is the year you graduated, even if you did not have COVID-19 to remind you.

How do I know? Well, I do not need any help remembering the U.S. Olympic Hockey team’s dramatic win over the Soviet Union to recall the year … ahem, that I graduated. Yes, it was a long time ago.

Now it’s your turn. It’s your time. You and your fellow seniors are embarking on a new phase in your lives, whether it involves college or the military or technical school or full-time work or whatever you all are choosing. The world can be a magical, wonderful place, and I cannot wait for you and your classmates to tackle it.

Promise me you will take time with those you love to look back and remember all the monumental moments in your life. And don’t forget the little ones that make us laugh. For example, I will never forget the time you blew out the candle on a birthday cake – too bad it was your brother’s birthday cake.

That day we laughed until we cried.

And I think that’s a lesson for us all. These days we should not be afraid to laugh a little, cry a little, hug once or twice, and share that swirl of emotions that make this an unforgettable moment in the lives of seniors in this town, this state, and this country.

Congratulations, Emelie, and congrats to all of your fellow graduates of the Class of 2020 from your parents, your families, and your friends. We will never forget this moment, and not because we are living through a moment in history.

We will never forget it because of you and your classmates.

And never forget: I love you, Emelie! —Dad

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