Well, it finally arrived: the first of the lasts. Last week, I registered my fifth and final child at Deer Valley High School. It didn’t hit me until we pulled into the parking lot that I would never do this again. Checkbook in hand, we walked to the gym, saying hello to many parents I have known over the years, also acknowledging this bittersweet milestone.
During previous registration days, we would greet each other, rolling our eyes and complaining about the crowds or how hot the gym was, but not on this day. While filling out the paperwork — which I made Haley complete because I’m near-legally blind and never bring glasses — I looked around and saw some of the incoming students. They looked so young! Meanwhile, their parents were sitting there rifling through the piles of forms and emergency contact cards, looking a bit overwhelmed. I’m a pro at this now. I can navigate those forms in record time.
But I was strangely envious. Yes, it was hot in the gym, and I began slipping around on the metal folding chair, but today I didn’t mind. We finished the paperwork and moved to the next station.
A woman I’ve seen every year at registration for the past 17 years was there as usual. She nodded toward Haley and said to me, “Your last one!”
I was touched she recognized us.
“Yep,” I replied, making a pouty face. “It just hit me this morning!”
“You can always come back and visit,” she said with a smile.
Onto the next station, where we spoke with the Herff Jones salesman, who was selling caps and gowns and other “Class of 2020” merchandise. I wanted to buy every single thing. After all, I’ll never see the Herff Jones salesman again! Haley kept me in check, however, declining my offer to buy her every single thing, though she did choose a “2020” keychain. I almost bought one for me!
Onto the next station. Time to write the check for the yearbook, teal card and — for the first time ever — I joined the PTSA, tacking on a donation to make up for the years I didn’t join. In my defense, I always intended to join but somehow never did. Now I feel better.
We headed over to House 3 to pick up Haley’s schedule. I gazed around the campus I’ve known since 2002. Haley was an infant when we registered our first daughter, Kaelin, and now, here we were, picking up Haley’s schedule for her senior year of high school.
One tradition Deer Valley has discontinued but that I always found so special was the “Senior Sunrise.” On the first day of school, before dawn, the seniors would gather on the hill behind Deer Valley and watch the sunrise, symbolizing the start of their senior year. Mind you, there were also donuts and bagels as enticement, but it’s right after two months of sleeping in.
Then, at the end of the year, an even more emotional tradition would take place. The “Senior Sunset,” which, as I’m writing this, is actually getting me choked up! The seniors would gather at the same hill and watch the sun slowly set, signifying the end of their senior year, while also celebrating the beginning of their futures. Tears are literally rolling down my face right now. What’s wrong with me?!
I don’t know why Deer Valley put an end to this. Probably for some security reasons, but it was beautiful.
There are more “lasts” ahead for me this year: the last Senior Prom, the last high school graduation, the last Grad Night. More bittersweet moments are to come — and I plan to savor each one — but those lasts will be followed by some exciting firsts. First weddings (my two eldest daughters are getting married next year), and hopefully... eventually... first grandchild!
I have a tall, grassy hill behind my house. If you climb to the very top, you can see for miles, and you can also watch the most beautiful sunrise, where I just might go tomorrow morning, with my fifth and final senior. Class of 2020, here we come!