Saturday, June 4, 2011

Endings and Beginnings

June 2 was a day of both bittersweet endings and joyous beginnings. On that day, my youngest son put on a blue and white uniform and went out onto an athletic field to represent his high school for the very last time. His lacrosse team, which was ranked 5th in their division, played the #4 team in the championship quarterfinals. Unfortunately, they lost 6-4, so their season came to an end sooner than they would have liked. But my defenseman son has a lot to be proud of: his team's defense kept them in the game and held the other team to their lowest goal output of the season. My son (if I may do a bit of bragging here) had a whale of a game, one of his best ever, keeping their premier attackmen away from the cage and frustrating them completely. But this boy of mine never thinks much about his personal performance; with him, it's all about the team. And it was a tough day for his team.

It hit him at the end of that game that this was it: this was the last time he'd ever put on a high school jersey and play with these boys he's been playing with for the past four years. Last fall, after the last football game (where his team suffered a heartbreaking loss in the championship game), he was sad when it hit him that his gridiron days were over; but he still had lacrosse season to look forward to. On June 2, though, there was that unmistakable note of finality: it was the end of an era, the end of a part of his life that (if he's anything like his four older brothers) he will remember with great fondness. To this day, his brothers will say that their best memories about high school all have to do with playing football and lacrosse (and for son #3, basketball, too).

I snapped this picture as my baby was heading across the parking lot to get on the team bus, for the last time ever, and ride back to school with his teammates. Endings are tough, especially endings to things that have been so wonderful.

But June 2 was also a day of miraculous, exciting, blessed beginnings! Because on the morning of the day that my youngest son played his last game of high school lacrosse, my oldest son became a daddy to two beautiful, healthy baby girls. I am finding myself amazed at the timing of these family events: as our youngest graduates and leaves the nest, we become first-time grandparents! When people ask us, "What in the world are you guys going to do, now that you're going to be empty nesters?" we just say, "We're going to travel to see our kids and grandkids!" As one phase of our life ends, a new one begins. I couldn't have planned things out better if I tried!

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