Yesterday Nighean Dhonn graduated from high school.
Graduations in this part of the world are doing on a rolling basis; there is a single venue per district and each school gets three hours to roll parents and students in, graduate them, and roll them out for the next one. The irony of the industrial nature of the final act of primary and secondary education - the production line - is not lost on me.
Nighean Gheal came home from the Big Big City for the event and Nighean Bhan is here from her burgeoning "work-until-graduate-school-starts" job. This is first time since Christmas that everyone has been home and likely will be the last time until Christmas that it is true.
The graduation was the usual series of circumstances of Pompish Circumstances that one has come to expect of such things: long trains of students coming in as an endless "ending 1 and repeat" drones through the event center, speeches that students work hard on that are both fairly predictable (if not, thankfully, controversial) and benignly forgettable - and then the fly-bys as the students stride across the stage, sometimes to applause and sometimes to the wild screams of friends and family 32 rows back trying to let them know they are here.
High School Graduation. One of the few traditions and rites we seem to maintain for this age group.
I was commenting to The Ravishing Mrs. TB this week as we were leaving from a high school event that this would be the first fall in 10 years we would not be looking at September to return. If I think about it even more, this is first time in 20 years we will not actively be thinking about getting ready for school (other than the paying of the college tuition, of course). And, of course, the fact that this probably represents a gap of 20 or more years before we would likely attend another high school graduation.
It is not just that such things as school and school events are largely ending. It is equally that family dynamics are changing as well.
Likely after August of this year, this will not be "home" for any of Na Clann. Yes, they may still come to live here from time to time (Nighean Bhan is to finish graduate school, and surely Nighean Dhonn will be home at least for Christmases) but this will never be their place of residence. It will be where they spent a lot of their lives and a place where all the things they could not take with them immediately will reside, but not the place that that spiritually live. That will be elsewhere. This will be a place of memories and visits and only tangentially of "life as it happens".
On the Road of Life, we seem to be passing a lot of exits all at once with the sign "Next Gas: 100 Miles" flying by out of the corner of our eye as we zoom past. There is simply nothing for it but to check the fuel gauge and drive on, hoping the scenery belies what seems to be a rather stark statement of desolation.