By Emily McGee
As I sat in my basement with my closest friends, we pondered the harsh reality that
school might be closed for a couple of weeks due to COVID-19.
It was March. Our senior show had occurred the weekend prior. I was in the spotlight for the first time in years, dancing beside the most compelling personalities I had ever encountered. I was alive. Yet, that was just that weekend.
This weekend was filled with movie marathons and our weekly trip to any store, this time being Walmart.
What we had in mind was what most did: leave school for an extended spring break. However, what I learned throughout this pandemic was the difference between missing something and wanting it back.
Let me be clear: I don’t want my old life back.
If I went back, I would not belong there. However, I miss the reality that I had lived for over 18 years.
Throughout my high school career, I watched every senior class before me experience their final months. It hurt tremendously more knowing that what we were supposed to receive was inevitably taken away.
Three of my closest friends and I had been preparing to sing as a quartet in our spring concert. But things became complicated at the onset of the pandemic.
We pushed it off, promising to prepare once the show was finished. The show ended on March 7. We were ready to perfect the song and perform for our beloved teacher, Mrs. Dougherty. She had watched us grow through our years in the program; she had been by our side. She had our entire chorus class audition for all-county, and we were all accepted.
After the show, our next performance would have been on March 20. By complete coincidence, my best friend’s birthday, who would have attended all-county with us, fell on that day.
Fast forward to mid-April: my best friends and I would have packed for our senior spring break trip to Myrtle Beach. We had been planning it for weeks, and I had convinced my dad to let me drive down with my friends separately.
That was going to be the highlight of April and, quite possibly, our senior year.
May meant bonfires and celebrations. May meant the anniversary of the YMCA Leader’s Club that I had joined three years prior, the club that changed my life. We would go on weekend retreats about three or four times a year, and May would hold our second-to-last one. The end of May also brought my dad’s birthday, which always brought carrot cake. No matter what the world was like, the cake would always be there.
Then, June came.
The final days of my high school career: senior ball, senior prank, senior sleepout and graduation. In the blink of an eye, it was June 12, our senior ball. I would have worn that glorious black dress, and I would have gone with the date that might have asked me to go. And in the following days, my entire senior class would have gone to Boston to be together one last time.
As we know, time flies. And that, it did. In what felt like a few days, it was suddenly June 27, the day I would have walked across the stage in my blue gown to end my journey at Cazenovia High School. It would have been a beautiful day where I would have sat with my best friends and looked around to see our families overflowing with joy.
That night would have brought graduation parties, the true beginning of a sensational summer. For me, every summer meant Camp Iroquois, a place that had formed into a version of home that I loved.
Except this part of my life never happened.
I did get graduation, with masks of course. I worked at camp, like every summer, with restrictions. I continued Leader’s Club virtually every Thursday until summer’s end.
Now, it is November. I’m sitting in my dorm room, and in a way, I write to that girl who I left behind. It is okay to miss something, and it is okay to be angry when given an ending you don’t want.
Yet, I’m alive, and I get to be somewhere new.
I hope that girl knows I made it.