Dear Class of 2016:
It’s been five years since we walked the narrow halls of middle school together. I’ve measured the time in the milestones of motherhood. You’ve measured it in the milestones of youth.
When I was struggling to find my new place in this role of “just a mom”, you were finding your new way through the wide aisles of high school.
When I was drafting a novel, you were filing college applications. When I was finally settling into my skin as a thirtysomething wife-mother-writer, you were happily shedding your old skin for something new. Actress. Athlete. Musician. Technician. Engineer.
You could say we’ve both been coming into our own these past five years.
You’ve been figuring out where you want to go. I’ve been figuring out where I want to land.
We passed each other at your after school jobs, at community events, and sometimes in those halls I still frequent when there’s a play to help direct or a class to help teach. I’ve watched you change into young men and women who often still have the impish grins you wore in middle school. You’re old enough to vote and fight for your country, but there’s a bit of a child still in you as well.
A child I’m so proud to have helped along the way. You were my last class, the last group of students who might remember how much I loved “Rikki Tikki Tavi” and Madeline L’Engle and Shakespeare. How much I loved inspiring you to write and how much I hated having to break those words down into such cold categories as the parts of speech.
You are the last class who acted out Scrooge with me, the last ones who read “Kissing Tennessee” and will understand why I gave a character in my book that name.
Sending you off into the big, wide world is a little bit like sending off a bit of myself.
I hope you take chances. I hope you try new things. I hope you go far, far away just to see where the edge of our world is and another begins. Then I hope you come back home and walk under the pine trees and wave when you pass me on the street.
I’ll want to hear all about your adventures, your choices, your careers. I’ll praise you for college or tech school or just waiting tables while waiting on the next big thing. There’s no shame in the choices you make as you stumble out the doors where everyone knows your name and into the place where your name is all you have.
You’ll carry that name and the memories of this life with you into the next. Even if you never call us home again, you won’t be able to erase this stamp from your soul. We are the people who brought you up and let you go.
So step firm and look ahead. The best is always yet to come.
And there’s always a new place to land.
Love, Mrs. Brackett
Originally published by The Northeast Georgian, May 25, 2016.