Today was Zechariah’s last first day of grade school. He started his senior year of high school—virtually.
I wondered how I would feel when this day finally arrived. Of course I’ve been thinking about it ever since he began high school. But the feeling of anticipation, and dread, started to really hit home when school ended this past June. After the traditional graduation Sabbath for this year’s AOY high school graduate, family and friends reminded me that it would be Zechariah’s turn next year.
Next year. Not so far away anymore.
I tried not to think about it too much during our stay-at-home vacation in July. We were supposed to travel to Texas, but COVID-19 changed our plans. Bad thing was Zechariah didn’t get a chance to see his Zuniga grandparents and family. But good thing was I got to spend a lot of time with him.
We watched the anime “My Hero Academia.” Just him and me, sitting on the old futon in the loft—his “boy-cave.” It was during that break that he and I went to the pet store to get his gargoyle gecko Peanut.
And we had family time, just the three of us. We watched TV shows. We ate together. It was one of the best weeks of my life with Zee and Zechariah.
I tried not to think about Zechariah’s senior year during his birthday week in August. Yahweh blessed us with beautiful weather so that we could have an outdoor “fake birthday party.” (That’s what Zechariah used to call his birthday party that wasn’t on his actual birthday.) Some of our family members were able to see each other in person for the first time since social distancing started in March.
Zechariah wasn’t expecting any kind of celebration this year for his seventeenth birthday because of COVID-19. His only request was to see the babies. And he got his wish and a party. In fact, he said it was a really good party (all the thanks this mom needed to hear).
On August 14, Zechariah turned seventeen. I baked the chocolate cake he requested—because he knew his dad liked it. We got food from Bravos upon his request. And we finished watching a Netflix series. It was a quiet celebration with just the three of us. COVID-19 downsized our plans.
Zechariah had postponed an online game day with the guys to the week after his birthday because he knew I would want the three of us to spend the day together. That was his gift to me.
Then came senior picture day. I chose the multiple pose and background package. Zechariah would have been content with the just the formal shots. He went along with it anyway.
When he was younger, Zechariah called the photos I tucked away in my Bible my “memories.” I think he knew that senior picture day was for my memories.
I tried not to think about Senior year too much as I watched the photographer instruct Zechariah on the different poses. I stood in the background snapping my own shots. Then came the formal pictures. Zechariah looked dashing in the tuxedo he chose from Men’s Wearhouse.
As the photographer took Zechariah’s headshots, I couldn’t stop myself from thinking about it any longer. And I couldn’t stop the tears.
This is Zechariah’s Senior year.
Zee found pictures we took on the first day of First grade. Zechariah’s smile and poses captured his excitement. He had already made it through half-day kindergarten. But that year would be the first time he was gone for the whole day. I survived that day.
Zechariah was excited and looking forward to his Senior year. He didn’t let the fact that school would be virtual discourage him. He told me that he was ready for school to start.
And so it did. His Senior year has started. And I survived this day too.
I am sad for Zechariah that COVID-19 robbed him of the excitement of walking into the school building on the first day of school as a Senior. But my son got through this day with a smile. It was a good day for him. He doesn’t dwell on the negative. He makes the most of each day. And today he was happy.
Zechariah and I had a talk recently. I asked him what he thought about everything happening around us. He told me that he believes that everything happens for a reason. He figured since Yahweh is in control of everything, then He has a reason for the way things are. Since he can’t do anything about some situations, he accepts things as they are. Basically, he doesn’t worry because he leaves everything in Yahweh’s Hands.
Of all the lessons that Zee and I tried to teach Zechariah over the past seventeen years, I am comforted that he has learned the most important one of all—to leave everything to Yahweh.
“Trust in [Yahweh] with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths” (Proverbs 3:5-6, KJV).
As I look at Zechariah’s last first-day-of-high-school picture, taken on our front porch, I’ll add the image to my memories. And I’ll keep all the memories of his thoughtfulness toward his dad and me. I’ll try not to think about graduation, just yet. I want to enjoy each moment while he’s still at home and it’s still just the three of us.
And I’ll trust that Yahweh is in control of Zechariah’s today and tomorrows.