Last Wednesday, I participated in the same activity as many across the country. I visited the downtown area of our community, settled into a spot (thankfully in the shade), and watched the local 4th of July parade as it made it’s way lazily through the street.
The actual temperature in the Midwest that day was in the high 90’s, which pushed heat indexes to well over 100 for the afternoon. The day was hot, sweaty, and everything that July in the Midwest promises to be.
The parade line was made of local businesses, regional politicians, area dance troupes, and then of course, the high school band.
Our family anxiously awaits the band every year.
I marched with the band as a member of the color guard in my day.
My daughter is embarking on her first year with the same color guard this year. My oldest plays percussion and prides himself on carrying the largest bass drum in the line.
They marched by, sweaty and tired looking, but happy and proud. We called their names, we waved as they passed. We took pictures.
It was not until later in the evening when I was posting pictures that some basic information hit me squarely between the eyes.
This parade, the one that we had attended and thought nothing of, was my son’s last.
He will not be marching in the parade next year, as he will have graduated. He will not be leading his section. He will not be carrying the largest bass drum. His back will not be aching at the end of the route.
This was it.
The first of the lasts.
This marching band season (yes, they have a season, many people know it as football season), and this entire school year will be a series of lasts for him. Last full week of “Band Camp,” last first game, last of each of the competitions, and so on.
As the oldest, he has always been our trailblazer. He clears the path for the others to follow, and he has done an amazing job.
As always with this child, I continue to be Nothing but Proud of him and all that he does.
Part of me is sad that I did not make the connection earlier in the day so that I could properly commemorate the day.
In the long run, I am glad that I did not. The knowledge would most likely have caused me to be a bit too emotional for the event.
We raise our children to grow, develop, and eventually leave the home. Logically we know that, but are we really prepared for when they do?
I would like to think that we are.
We will encourage him to embrace every one of the “lasts” that come his way this year. To savor them. The embrace the changes that are ahead.
All while walking his sister through the same series of “firsts.”
This time is a sweet one. We will walk through the “lasts,” we will probably shed a few tears, then in a few years time, we will do it all again with the next one.