“The years go by, like stones under rushing water. We only know, we only know when it’s gone.” -Needtobreathe
Yesterday, I missed my son’s first day of Elementary School.
I was out of town on a beach retreat with college-age students. 6 months before when I planned the trip, I was a rookie parent not thinking to check the school calendar. I never had to check the school calendar before. By the time we realized the overlap, there was nothing I could do about it. And so, I left for the trip, knowing I would not be there for my oldest child’s first day of Kindergarten. I was a wreck the whole week. I quarreled with some of my friends. I cried a couple of nights before I went to sleep. I struggled to enjoy myself, even amidst the sun, sand, waverunners, and some of my favorite people. Somehow, I knew the importance of the moment. In one of those rare instances when you understand how you’re going to view things when you look back on them, I knew how significant it was. It was a moment that would never happen again. A moment I could never get back. And I missed it.
That was yesterday.
Today, my son finished Elementary School.
This morning, I wrapped up a beach retreat with college-age students. I drove home all afternoon. When I got there, I put my stuff up, showered, and loaded the family up in the car. We rode up to a church near our house for the 5th-grade awards ceremony. Honestly, I really didn’t understand how big of a deal this thing was. My initial assumption was that this was just some sort of end-of-the-year concert. My wife had already informed (warned) me that there would be a recorder performance as part of the program. I secretly hoped that one of the students would appear onstage, and, Ron Burgundy-like, remove a recorder from his jacket sleeve and say, “I couldn’t possibly. I’m not even prepared.” and then proceed to go to town on some crazy-good recorder solo. But it didn’t happen that way. Every single one of those 5th-graders played the recorder together. Well, all but two, actually. One kid played the bass guitar and another played a drum kit. I can tell you which two kids will be the first to have girlfriends in middle school.
Anyway, after a quick glance at the program, it quickly dawned on me that this was more like a commencement ceremony, of sorts. And so, after a few recorder numbers (and several Michael Jackson medleys), each kid’s name was called, they walked across the stage, shook hands with the principal, and received their certificate. It was all so…grown up. And there was my son, being called by name, strutting towards the center of the stage and taking the principal’s hand in his. As they were shaking hands, I thought about how I missed his first day of Kindergarten.
And how that was only yesterday.
He accepted his piece of paper, finished the short walk across the rest of the stage, down the stairs, and landed back in his seat. It was just the briefest of moments. But it was significant. I knew I would look back on it and cherish it as one of those moments that will never happen again, a moment that I’ll never get back. I didn’t miss it.
That was today.
Tomorrow, my son graduates from High School…