This week, we received our son’s official drill portrait via email. Makes me want to jump up and sing the National Anthem. Off-key and properly social distanced, of course.
Michael loves being part of his school’s Army JrROTC precision drill team. These boys practice throughout the year, most of them waking before 6:00am and arriving by 6:30am. They drill in the morning before school and, during competition season, for 8 hours on Saturday and 4 hours on Sunday. They are really, really good. In fact, they are one of the top teams in the nation.
They march and spin rifles. They prepare for inspection [Imagine someone yelling in your face and asking you rapid-fire questions ranging from your rifle serial number to the name of the cartoon character who lives in a pineapple under the sea]. They are attentive to the slightest detail of hand or foot position. Then they march some more. It’s all about discipline. And dedication. And teammates who become your brothers. They don’t usually enjoy Spring Break as they are preparing for the nationals portion of their season.
Like everything else, that changed this year.
Michael and his fellow Cadets were to board a bus today (departing precisely 1200 hrs.) and travel to Daytona Beach for the All Service National High School Drill Team Championship. Back in March, the Virginia Army Nationals competition (where they are defending national champions) was cancelled. The seniors on his team will never get these experiences back. Michael can hope for next year.
I know this pales in comparison to the situation that many find themselves in right now. We are healthy, my children are still receiving their educations, and we have food aplenty. While I am furloughed, my husband is able to work from home. I’m not trying to win a pity party. But I do feel sad. For Michael. For his teammates. For their families.
I can’t imagine how parents feel whose children are not experiencing to the fullest their senior year in high school or college. Or parents who aren’t together to welcome their first child. Or families who can’t be by the bedside to comfort a loved one passing away. I’ve heard it said that 2020 will be the year of the *asterisk. Perhaps it will also be the year of perspective.
But just because someone else’s loss may be greater than mine, doesn’t mean that I should brush mine aside. I think it is important to grieve these losses. To take a moment to imagine what life was supposed to be like and then to experience the weight of what life is now. To let all of that wash over you and cover you for a time. And then, with God’s grace and full of gratitude for His mercies, to walk into what today holds.