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This is not fair

It is supposed to be prom weekend at my house.

As the father of two daughters, a high school senior and a high school junior, this was a weekend our family had looked forward to for years.

Dresses were purchased months ago. Dates were secured with the required matching cummerbunds. Picture locations planned. Reservations for dinner were made. It was going to be a great night.

I was just looking forward to the few hours of peace and stillness with my wife, Jenelle, in a quiet house after the girls took their hair and makeup concerns out the door with their dates.

For our senior, Miriam, it was to be a night of celebration for all she had accomplished in her high school career. The last big event before graduating and becoming a freshman at James Madison University in the fall. For Grace, our junior, she was going for the fun of dressing up and having a fun time with friends.

But, as we know, there will be no prom. Graduation is just an unfulfilled promise at this point and even the upcoming fall semester at JMU is in question. It has been a most inopportune year for a worldwide pandemic for Miriam.

She is struggling with having lost her final months of high school. She has proclaimed dozens of times, “This is not fair!” Miriam is all about fairness. She plans to major in justice studies at JMU and has plans to become a lawyer. She really wants to be a judge, but being a lawyer comes first for the 18-year-old whose hero is Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

Not only did she lose school and all that comes with it, she worked at an ice cream store we didn’t feel was safe, so she isn’t working. Not working means no spending money in her bank account and the loss of an opportunity to earn money for college. We remind her, there are 26 million people who are unemployed in America with worse problems than hers, but that isn’t exactly what she wants to hear. There is obvious mourning going on for all that is lost. The inability to pop out to the store and look around when she wants, a perceived lack of freedom.

She is basically ignoring the fact that prom would have been this weekend.

Grace and her date are still planning to have a prom of sorts. She plans to decorate our downstairs and porch. We will cook something on the grill and they plan to play the Just Dance Now video game downstairs. We are trying to talk Miriam and her date into joining Grace’s impromptu prom night but, so far, she is having none of it.

I feel bad for all the high school seniors who don’t get that last dance to remember the rest of their lives. Those who will miss walking the aisle to receive a diploma on the appropriate day in May.

I feel terrible for those athletes who worked all through high school for that last softball season or soccer season or baseball season. Those who had one more shot at the glory of a state championship.

I feel bad for missed spring break trips, for the absence of final band and chorus concerts.

Having a front-row seat to see a senior struggle through this time, I know that no amount of people posting their senior photo on Facebook or yard signs congratulating them will make up for what is lost.

All we can do is continue to give them hugs, let them cry on our shoulders and agree with them when they say for the 557th time, “This is not fair.”

Roger Watson is editor of The Kenbridge-Victoria Dispatch. His email address is Roger.Watson@KVDispatch.com.