It has taken me far too long to write this post. I think I have been avoiding the topic (and the photos) on purpose. The last few weeks have been so full of melancholia for me that I have a difficult time putting it into words.
Of course, last week was the kids' last week of school. Because Joe was graduating on Wednesday his last actual day of school was on Tuesday. I took the obligatory "last day of school" photo on that day since it was the last day that all four of my children would ever be attending the same school all together ever again. It was momentous. And sad.
I also had to do my familiar side by side comparison. The first day of the school year and the last day of the school year. Looking at the growth not only shocks me it also makes me sad. So much making me wistful these days.
On Wednesday evening Joe's 8th grade class had their graduation ceremony. More pictures were had.
His siblings were very proud of him too, and they too, like me, were feeling a bit sad about it all. They really enjoyed having their big brother at school with them.
The graduation ceremony started with mass at church. After mass there was a brief ceremony and Joe delivered the class farewell address. It was a gorgeous speech, very well delivered, and very well received. Safe to say there were not many dry eyes in church as Joe finished his speech. It was beautiful. He received MANY compliments. Proud mama, right here.
The kids were then called to the front of church to receive their graduation certificates.
Usually the graduating class performs a class song that they chose. Because it can be difficult to get 8th graders to sing the song is usually performed by the class on chimes. Not this year. This class is a class of singers (one of the reasons that the school musicals have been such a success). The class performed "Somewhere Over The Rainbow" (the Hawaiian version) and it was gorgeous. Joe had been telling me to prepare myself for weeks because he knows that song and that version is my all time favorite. Yep. I cried.
Joey knew I would be emotional. He gave me a little smile of encouragement on the processional out of church.
This vast majority of kids in this class had all been together since 4K. They really grew up together. And they were closer than any other class I've known. They were always hanging out together outside of school. Lots of bonfires and movies. Sometimes they fought like brothers and sisters but they really did love each other. It will be difficult to see these kids split up to different high schools.
Some of Joe's good guy friends. So many good memories together. I have pictures of these boys together when they were 4 years old!
The boys. Again. Such a great group.
I was surprised that I held it together as well as I did. I cried but I was discreet. I thought for sure I would lose it and wail and sob. I'm sure Joe is glad that I did not.
Such proud parents.
And the grandmas were so very proud too. My mom is still bragging about the speech Joe made. She really sobbed. She must have been taking over for me.
After the ceremony there was a reception across the street at the school. A video montage was put together with the kids' baby photos and then a whole mess of pictures of the class over the years. Man. That really drives home just how quickly this has all gone. Like light speed it seems.
It was an emotional week. The last few weeks, actually. But it all came to a peak last week with graduation and then school ending. I just don't know how to slow this beautiful life down.
On the evening of the last day of school Ben had baseball practice and Tommy went along to help out. That just left Joe and Grace back at home with me. With the 6 year age gap those two don't always connect quite as much as I would like. But when they do it is magic. On this night I was washing up the dinner dishes after Todd, Ben, and Tommy raced out to baseball practice. When I finished cleaning up I looked out the front window to see where Joe and Grace had gotten to. This is what I saw...
Magic. Pure joy and magic. Oh, this mama's heart. Seeing this on top of being so melancholy was just too much. So sweet.
The next day the kids and I were out running errands. We drove past the lake to take a look at all of the pelicans that our visiting and we passed a park that I used to take the kids to every day when they were small. I mean EVERY. DAY. The kids all shouted how they wanted to stop and play at the park and I just couldn't refuse. The kids and I got out of the car and ran over to the park. It was surreal. Joe now hit his head standing under the monkey bars that the boys used to struggle to make it across and Grace was skipping bars. It just blew my mind how big they had gotten so quickly. So much had changed. And yet so much stayed the same. Joe began a rousing game of tag with some kids on the playground and his brothers quickly joined in. Soon the entire playground was in on the fun. Grace was busy showing me all of her skills. "Mom! Watch this! Watch me!"
Some things never change. And that's a good thing. A great thing. There's only so much change I can take at one time.
Yes, these days have brought into focus how quickly it is all going. As fast as the speed of light, it seems. Too fast. But I'm trying my best to enjoy every moment.