It’s hard to imagine that the last time I posted here, the coronavirus wasn’t much more than a headline in the newspaper that described sick people that were far away. That was March 3. Ten days later, the schools shut down and Henry would miss the best part of his senior year in high school. And 11 days after that, my dad died. He was gone eight days before the test came back positive. Interspersed, for reasons other than the virus, Jim and I would learn that three friends and former coworkers died untimely deaths. We’re pretty shell shocked, needless to say. Each day feels like slow motion, but goes by in the blink of an eye.
That’s why, before I get back to posting about interior design and other pretty things, I feel compelled to post pictures. Pictures that make me happy and provide some hope amidst the sadness. Thanks for your indulgence.
This is my dad.
This is my son.
With all this time at home, I finally took the boxed pictures from my senior year at Langley High School in McLean, VA, and compiled them into an album. Only took me 34 years to get around to it. But as I looked at those images of us–at graduation parties, getting our diplomas, going to beach week, hosting my 18th birthday party–I felt so sad that Henry’s being kept at home during what would have been his time.
BUT. Maybe he wouldn’t have set out to Shenandoah National Park with his friends (before the park shut down, that is).
And I definitely wouldn’t have had this much time to hang out with him, selfishly speaking. And he wouldn’t have been at his drafting table creating incredible pieces of art, or cutting up old clothes and sewing pieces together to make new ones. And he and his brother may not have humored us with a walk through the buttercups out in Middleburg last week:
At this point, Matt has come back into our life. Since he’d already spent time with Henry last fall (and his daughter is in Henry’s art class at Yorktown), he called me with a “big idea” one day a few weeks ago. Since the seniors were going to be missing out on so much this year, he wanted to both document their loss and celebrate their accomplishments. He set out on a mission to photograph each of the more than 500 students in Yorktown’s senior class. His project (he’s nearly halfway through at this writing) has now been covered in publications from Arlington Magazine to the Washington Post to CBS News, our local Channel 9 news, and the Today Show. Matt just posted a clip of the project on German television, which none of us can understand! He’s since gotten letters from all over the world.
I’m proud to brag that Matt came to our house to start off his project, and he shot the first three pictures of Henry, his friend Evan Rotker, and twins Sarah and Emily Roberts right in our street, maintaining a proper social distance all the while.
Using the same simple backdrop and shooting in black and white, Matt’s created Not Forgotton: The Yorktown Seniors of 2020. His Instagram account, linked here, shares the unique stories of each of these seniors, and they just blow me away.
Here’s our own clip of Henry’s shoot, where Matt corralled some skateboarders who just happened by at the right time:
Without this strange, sad season, I wouldn’t have ever learned about all these talented and thoughtful people with the most fascinating backgrounds and interests. They truly give us hope during a time where hope is hard to find.
Thank you, Henry. You amaze me with your resilience and equanimity. You are going to be brilliant in the honors program at Christopher Newport University. Thank you, Matt, for providing us this window into Henry’s graduating class. Thank you, of course, to Jim and Chal for the card games, family movie nights, and for grilling up some fantastic meals!
And thank you most of all, Dad, for giving me these past 50 years. I will carry your smile with me always.