Celebrations are all rolled into one these next several days for many residents, as the Relay for Life gets in step Saturday evening; fathers are honored on Sunday; and on Monday, families and friends will gather at the O’Neill Center of WestConn’s campus to witness Newtown High School graduation ceremonies. Younger graduates will be fêted on Tuesday at Newtown Middle School ceremonies.
Each celebration carries a special message, but there will be instances this year when some individuals or families experience this trifecta of events as one thread weaving through their lives.
The Relay puts the focus on the more than 1,700,000 people — just in America — who are diagnosed with cancer each year.
As members of “Light The Night” teams take to the circuit around the Newtown High School track on Saturday night, they will not only be relaying the passing miles to one another, but relaying a message far beyond the local grounds that there is a continued need for research into cancer prevention, treatment, and a cure. Team members, survivors, and caregivers present will be represented by a cross section of people — including fathers and soon-to-be graduates.
Father’s Day gives children the chance to take the focus off themselves and their activities and shower that male role model with extraordinary attention unlike that of any ordinary day. It is a chance, as well, for fathers to reflect on the gifts they have given their children, the hopes and dreams supported, the love shown in small and large ways.
It is certain that among those fathers present at the Relay, there will be some facing the challenges of cancer diagnoses. They may be, as well, fathers proudly anticipating their offspring’s launch into a new world at the following nights’ graduation ceremonies.
Then there are the graduates; commencement packs so much into one word. It is the beginning of a life outside that of public and private schools in which young people have dwelled for most of their lives. Whether continuing on to higher education or making use of natural gifts, it is truly the commencement of new adventures. The few steps across the stage on Monday night are huge strides for the young people of Newtown High School.
Likewise, NMS graduates will leap from the relatively protected middle school status to the more independent status of a high school student.
Most graduates will have experienced the love and support of fathers and fatherlike figures over the past 13-plus years of school. Some will have personally or closely experienced cancer. These life experiences are woven into who they are, who they will become.
The events of the next few days will be threaded betwixt and between lives. This month’s celebrants will be impacted by the people who walk for what they believe in, who walk the walk of parenthood, who walk a new path to a new future.
We are reminded that to support one, supports all. In this way, we light the night, and we light the days to come.