My mom texted me this morning. Her phone had reminded her – a week early – of Victoria’s high school graduation ceremony that would have been held on May 16 at 9:00 AM.

That is, if the world hadn’t fallen apart.

That’s right – if we were pandemic-free, my baby girl would have graduated next weekend. I would have watched her walk across the stage right behind her cousin, Lucas.  I would have snapped a million pictures.  Seriously.  I would have totally drained my phone battery or my storage capacity, whichever proved to be the weaker link.  We would have left the ceremony and gathered with the entire family at our house, celebrating and laughing until the kids finally decided they had spent enough time with all us oldies and driven off in search of their friends.  Kasie and I would have uncorked a wine bottle and probably dusted off a photo album or two.  Oh, the photos!

We would have first turned to this page. The page appropriately titled “Yucas and Tortilla,” because that is what they called each other when they were toddlers. Cue the awwwwwwwww’s.

Yucas and Tortilla in the toybox – 2004

Born just six months apart, these two were so stinkin’ precious.  And trouble? Don’t even get me started! I mean, really.  Look at those faces.  (Although, I have to add one small caveat here… it was Lucas’s sister, Bella, with whom Vic spent the most time in “time-out” at Mimi’s.)

Trouble with a toy train – 2005

But days become months, months become years.   Kids grow up.  Moments get breathed into being, then reshape and reform until they blur into one strange memory on whose continuum we cannot determine exactly when the change occurred.  We miss the growth while it’s happening.  We miss the sprouting of the seed and the budding of the leaves.  We look around one day and we have a tree.  Or an adult.  Or two, as the case may be.

Growing, growing, GROWN! – June 2019

When we recognize the moment, when we see the pending end of an era that we honestly don’t want to end, we smile at the memories.  We swipe away a tear before it has a chance to ruin the day’s makeup.  And we pray that those trees have strong enough roots.

As my children grew, one of my dear friends told me that it may not always be the “firsts” that tug most at my heart; oftentimes, it will be the “lasts.” She was so right. This is my last baby.  Grown, even if not quite flown from the nest.  But I know it won’t be long. These photos make me sad and nostalgic, but they also make me immensely happy.  For our family, both tearjerkers exist here.  John and Kasie are experiencing their first child to graduate, and Dom and I are experiencing our last.  It is bittersweet, to be certain.  It is worth celebrating; it is worth writing; and it is even worth crying over. We are so madly proud of our babies, though it’s evident they aren’t babies anymore.

Marion C. Garretty is credited with saying, “A cousin is a little bit of childhood that can never be lost.”  I believe it.  I’ve witnessed it. I feel it when I look at these photos.  I am eternally grateful to my niece Bella for taking such great cap-n-gown pictures of these two. Her talent has made my heart smile.

To all the graduates of 2020, but especially to Lucas and Victoria, may every day be an adventure, may you love and live life to the fullest, may the sun shine always on you, and may the stars write your name.

I love you forever,

Mom / Aunt Lori