As parents, we know that one of our main responsibilities is to prepare our kids for independence. When they are first born, then our children depend on us to meet all of their needs. As they continue to grow then we teach them more and more skills of what they can learn to do independently. By the time they reach their senior year in high school, then we are trying to make sure as parents that they are ready to take a really big step in independence this next year when they graduate.
As a mother who had her 18 yr old son die instantly in a car crash in June 2013, then my perspective has been changed by our trauma. My son died the summer before his senior year. When Kylee got to experience her senior year several years ago and as MiKayla experiences her senior year this year, then my heart and mind truly celebrate each of these moments. I am so very thankful that they are both getting to experience their senior years. My son never got to experience those moments. It has been a true joy watching each of my daughters have their senior years and all of the moments that come with it.
Volleyball has been a true love of MiKayla’s life. She loves to play the sport and has grown so much as a player through the years. She had the wonderful opportunity to play JO last season. (JO stands for junior olympics which is the volleyball opportunities that we have in this part of our state for traveling teams.) MiKayla learned an unbelievable amount and truly grew in amazing ways last year as she played and competed with her JO team. She has been considering playing college volleyball, and we have been hearing from different schools and states. However, MiKayla is quite settled on the university that she wants to attend. At this point, we are unsure if she is going to be playing college volleyball and instead may end up playing intramural instead.
As her mom, I have enjoyed watching her play so much. When we see our children thrive and excel in areas, then it is a true delight as a parent to watch our children shine. Volleyball has most definitely been one of those areas for me to watch MiKayla as she has shined in this sport in multiple ways. At one of our previous home matches, a good family friend named Darrel was there watching. His daughter Jenna is also on the same volleyball team, and Jenna and MiKayla had the opportunity to play on the same team this year which was a true delight as they have literally grown up together. Darrel was commenting to me how much he enjoyed watching MiKayla play. He also shared that it was fun for him to notice how her expression did not change no matter what she was going to do in her position. Whether she was going to kill it, tip it, or roll it, he said that he noticed that her expressions remained the same and that you could not read her.
When Darrel said that then this immediately made me laugh thinking of MiKayla’s dad and how much he would have enjoyed seeing that. Her dad was the king of keeping his expression where you were unable to read what he was thinking or planning. Darrel and my husband had been good friends through the years. As Darrel and I stood there talking about all of this then I shared with him how sad it was to me that Kirk never was able to see her play. My husband died in a work related accident in August 2011 when MiKayla was entering the 6th grade. Her volleyball career began in 7th grade. Grief definitely rears it’s head in those moments. It was difficult for me not to cry as I shared with him how sad it was to me that he never saw her play and how very much he would have enjoyed seeing her shine in her matches. Her big brother was able to see 7th grade volleyball, but he was tragically killed 22 months after his dad died. He has also missed all of those years of her moments. I am thankful for all that Kylee and I have gotten to watch and be a part of; however, this is normal in grief. We wish that our loved ones were still experiencing those moments with us. We miss their presence in our lives. We still wish that they were experiencing those special moments with us.
Grief is a part of our life experiences in ways that are difficult to describe. Often, grief is described as waves rolling in. It is just like having that conversation with Darrel and how the grief waves can come rolling. Darrel was sharing with me his joy in watching her and her expressionless moves. This immediately triggered me to think of her dad and how he would have loved to have been a part of all of these moments in his daughter’s life. This is part of grieving… missing your loved one and wishing that they were still experiencing all of these moments with you. It is normal. It hurts. It is part of grief.
Many parents of the seniors and the seniors in MiKayla’s class keep talking about the last this or the last that. MiKayla and I are truly trying to focus on enjoying each moment that occurs. MiKayla’s personality is definitely very strong in focusing on each moment and enjoying them thoroughly. I can say as I look back on high school volleyball and watching my daughter that I have truly enjoyed each of these moments and watching her shine.
I think that I was so busy enjoying each moment that the end of the season took me by surprise. LOL. It was a Monday night recently and some of the parents were talking about how the next night was the last home match and was senior night. All of a sudden it hit me. This season of watching my daughter play high school volleyball was ending. As I have shared in previous blogs, I am believer in being real. If you want to cry then cry. If you want to laugh then laugh. I also am a believer in enjoying what my daughters want when it is their moments. These moments are MiKayla’s and when we were going in to senior night then she shared that she was hoping that I would not cry. She said, “If you cry, then I will cry mom, and I don’t want to.” I most definitely had moments where I could tell that i was on the brink of tears so I tried to do different things to honor my daughter’s request. When we were taking pictures of the seniors then I could tell that the tears were close so I began asking the underclassmen on the team to tell me jokes. This led to lots of laughter as the girls desperately tried to help and say jokes as quickly as possible. They definitely brought smiles and laughter to that night.
For the last tournaments that we still had left to play then we were going to be on the road. It was with great joy that I watched our girls win the match in the district tourney that qualified them for the state tourney! I kept thinking yes! We just got another week of high school volleyball. It has been wonderful to watch our team learn and grow. We are surrounded with great people on our coaching staff, players, and parents, and I have thoroughly enjoyed watching our girls learn so much and grow in their skill sets and what they could accomplish individually and as a team.
Our last match at the state tournament was bittersweet. I was excited about the progress that our girls had made and that they were playing in the state tourney. I also had many sad moments thinking of how much I will miss watching my girl with her school team. However, I am ever thankful for each moment that she has had, and for each moment that I as her mom was able to cheer her on as she was excelling.
Seasons of life are normal. We have to come to the end of one season in order to begin the next one. Kylee is doing so well in her college season, and I am ever thankful for the healing, growth, and maturity that I continue to see in Kylee. I do believe that MiKayla will also excel in her college season as she starts anew this next fall. In the meantime, I will continue to celebrate and be thankful for each moment that we do have and thoroughly enjoy them to the best of my ability. I definitely look forward to both of my daughters’ futures with much hope and joy. As I have watched each of them travel their grief journeys of losing their daddy and their big bro at such young ages, I am ever thankful for every single moment where they were able to find joy and love. These two daughters of mine continue to amaze me as they journey through their different seasons. Although I will tremendously miss this volleyball season, I sure look forward to the next seasons with much joy and thankfulness in my heart.
“We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope.” Martin Luther King
We will continue to hope. We will continue to heal. We will continue to be thankful for each moment. We will celebrate each moment that we do have.