Lily Genovese has been a contributor to The Darien Times for nearly her entire high school career. Thursday is Darien High School’s graduation. To honor the seniors, Lily is writing this week’s editorial. Congratulations to her and all.

It is currently 2:05 a.m. Saturday, May 30. I have been tossing and turning in my bed for what has now been three hours —but feels like eons.

There is something so peaceful about this time of day. My phone isn’t ringing. My email isn’t buzzing. My only thoughts are my own, unfiltered, and uncomfortably clear.

I can’t seem to shake the thought that my graduation is in 12 days. When you read this sentence, it will be today: June 11, 2020.

I am imagining my class and our faculty, together not only physically, but spiritually. We did it. But how can this be real?

I am imagining our valedictorian, Maya Nalawade, standing at the stage, giving a speech that seems like it was written by some sort of God. But I know it’s her voice. She is talented, well-spoken, and humble. She is a continuous inspiration for me — a published author at just 18 years old. She just so happens to be my classmate.

She just so happens to be my friend.

It feels so wrong that my goodbye to these important people in my life was a click, on our last day of classes just two weeks ago.

“End meeting,” —followed by what seems to be a never-ending reminder to update my Zoom application. Nevertheless, though, it is a click.

I am imagining my teachers that have shaped us into who we are today, sitting in the crowd watching parents congratulate their children on all of their hard work. Those teachers who shaped that student’s tenacity and ethic will clap and say hello.

These role models deserve their own round of applause —though they would never ask for it. The sight of their students standing on the stage is reward enough — they couldn’t be more proud.

The little girl in me can’t help but imagine throwing my cap into the air and feeling like Reese Witherspoon in that final scene of Legally Blonde. (Just for a second).

I am imagining bonding over this vision with my lifelong best friend, Lila Karl. I will whisper one of Witherspoon’s famous lines to her when I get my diploma and probably be sitting next to her because when the world is in height order, we will both be last in line.

“What, like it’s hard?”

We’ll giggle. Then we will get a signal from Mr. Anthony Sweeney, a Darien High School Western Civilization teaching legend who is also one of my biggest mentors.

He will tell us to shut up.

Little does he know that his hysterical bluntness will only push the joke further. The giggle will surrender under our breath.

So much of what could have been will be left to our imaginations. As a student body, we can create the infamous ceremony in our minds and make it bigger and brighter than it ever could have been.

We can still appreciate the faculty that gave us the strength and inspiration to stand at the podium and receive a diploma.

We can smile when we roll down our passenger seat window today. We can make eye contact that will speak louder than any thank you we would have given. We can signal our gratitude in ways that will feel just as warm as the painfully tight hugs we would have shared.

Our goodbye to many may have been a click- but the Class of 2020 is so spiritually woven together that we know, without words, it was so much more than that.

Though we are separated, we are together in our alone, 2:05 a.m. thoughts. The ceremonies that we outline in our imaginations will be somewhat different —though there will be alignment in these ways. We will all imagine the smiles, the hugs, and the songs of goodbye.

Though I may be biased, I believe that the Darien High School class of 2020 is one of the most spectacular groups of students. I am so grateful for the friends I have made in the most unlikely places —the locker room, the guidance department, the nurse’s office.

Maybe even in the line before Jim Smith’s desk at the Welcome Center during lunch hour— when he shares his never-ending supply of Tootsie Pops.

I am a firm believer that everything happens for a reason— and though I know there was no silver lining about the virus itself, I am confident that our class was the one who could fall face down into the burning lava of it all and still come out with a smile.

We are strong, united, and together today. Beyond that. Every day.

Thank you, DHS Faculty and Class of 2020, for teaching me that when life gives you lemons, it is possible to make something resembling lemonade.

This ending is bittersweet, but we made history.

With love, Lily♡