Our time had arrived. We drove into the parking lot, claimed our spot, and walked into the stadium like so many Fridays before. This time was different though. This Friday was our final trip to the stadium to watch our son and his high school teammates play football under the Friday Night Lights. It was Senior Night and it was bittersweet.
I felt an avalanche of emotions as we entered the gates that night. This was the last time we would take the walk to our section of the bleachers. The last time we would see Mikey in uniform on that field. The last time we would be surrounded by our hometown friends and our sports family that had formed over the years. Our last trip to the snack bar or to the bathroom that was so far from our seats. The last time to take in the amazing lake and sunset view complete with the American Flag waving in the breeze. We are so fortunate to have this view from our football stadium.
As we stood near the end zone waiting to take our walk to the 50-yard line my mind began to reflect. Years of memories raced before me. From our first year of flag football (at the earliest age possible) to Pop Warner, then Middle School, and onto four awesome years of high school. Football has been our life from late Summer to Fall for 12 years! Images of past coaches, teammates, parents, travel, and our yellow wagon packed with chairs, ice chest, and gear bags resurfaced. Our daughter was a cheerleader, I was a volunteer, and my husband coached and ran chain gang during these years. Extended family joined us on many occasions. These were special times.
Then our son’s voice started to play over the sound system. His farewell speech played as our family, my parents, and one of Mikey’s best friends walked across the field. I gazed up at him so proud in the moment, enjoying hearing his voice fill the stadium. I knew he was struggling too. This was his final game on that field. The final time wearing that uniform standing beside his teammates. He would look up to the stands of this stadium for the last time that night. It was truly a bittersweet moment.
We watched and listened as the other Senior teammates walked the field. Many of them have a very special place in our hearts. We are really going to miss them as they each go their different directions.
I knew this night was coming for four years. Each of the three years prior I sat and watched Senior Night with tears in my eyes. Tears for the families and the emotions they had to be feeling. Tears for myself thinking that this would soon be our son and our family.
It didn’t quite happen like I had pictured. Unfortunately, Mikey suffered an injury in a prior game and was not able to play for the last time on his home field Senior Night. This was particularly heartbreaking for us. It hurt deeply to see him on the sideline just aching to play the sport he loves so much. To miss out on his last high school game at home. Football has been Mikey’s biggest passion. (aside from his faith) He loves to play, watch, read and study the sport. As unfair as it seemed to me, he is a strong young man and I know this will only make him stronger. Everything happens for a reason.
Mikey is our youngest child. That means we are experiencing our final “last times” of everything this year. I sure don’t know where the time goes. The saying “you blink and they are grown” is so true. Senior Night is more than just a celebration of your child’s athletic career in high school. It is a night of reflection and a night of realization that this is the end of a chapter.
Senior Night is also a very proud moment of life. The sweet part of “bittersweet” is the wonderful memories we have. The amazing young man our son has become. His accomplishments and successes. The joy we have experienced during these years as parents.
This somewhat feared and somewhat happily anticipated night has come and gone. We survived. Now it is time to look forward to the next chapter. I cannot wait to see what it brings.