It's graduation season once again. This year, our youngest, Dylan, graduated from Sandy High.
We've had a child at Sandy High for 18 consecutive years. For our family it is definitely the end of an era. Hollis and I will soon be empty nesters. For most families this is a change and transition that evokes some blend of sadness and joy.
Our first graduate was in 2003, our oldest daughter Rachel. During a parent teacher conference her senior year I asked her anatomy teacher, Mr. Ball, if he thought she had the aptitude to be a nurse. He responded that she could be a doctor if she wanted. She's now an emergency room physician in Seattle.
My first wife, Gillian, died two years later, in 2005.
Our next graduation was in 2006. Our son Peter gave the student speech for his class that year. His speech was focused on his mother's death, and what his experience of that was like. He told everyone that such an event will either break you, or make you into something better. Essentially he encouraged us to embrace change, even when difficult. A hard speech for a parent to hear.
Later that year I married Hollis, and she and her sons, Aidan and Dylan, joined our family. Hollis' first husband, Graham, their father, had died in 2005.
Our next graduation was Esther in 2010. She so enjoyed her math classes at Sandy that she majored in math in college. She is now a math teacher in Seattle public schools.
Hollis was diagnosed with cancer in 2011, and much changed again for us. After two successful surgeries and chemotherapy she celebrated her five-year cancer-free anniversary last November.
The next graduation was Aidan in 2014. He chose an engineering school in New York and we only see him twice a year now. Then David's graduation in 2016. And now Dylan.
As has been noted by many a graduation speaker, high school graduation is both a ending and a beginning.
Last week I was playing a game of horse with Dylan on our home basketball court. On the corner edge of the court the names we engraved in the concrete the day we poured it can still be seen after 20 years of wear and tear.
The name of my first wife, Gillian, appears there. Our son David's name does not appear, as he was not born yet. The only guarantee in life seems to be change.
Nothing's in concrete.