Last weekend was the Homecoming dance at Glenelg High School. As our youngest daughter got ready to go for the first time, I couldn’t help but recall the last time we were preparing for this big day. Grace was then a freshman and Megan a senior. I remember it as a special, golden day. It was a clear, crisp autumn day, perfect for a parade and football.  Cara, our oldest, had come home from college for the festivities, and the air was full of happy expectation.   As the finishing touches were put on the colorful class floats,  you could hear the award-winning  marching unit band warming up in the distance with thumping bass, snare drums and brass. Megan  was that year’s Homecoming queen, and I (as Queen mum?!) got the thrill of driving a loaned bright red classic Jaguar convertible with her riding in the back tossing candy to children in the crowd, including sisters Grace and Gloria along the  parade route.  Everyone seemed in festive mood, happily waving, clapping, cheering or capturing  photos and video.

After the game we all rushed home so that Grace and Meg could get ready for the big dance. The photo we most often use of Grace is one taken before the dance that evening. Bedecked with a sparkling necklace and braces on her teeth, she was in her bedroom with the late day sun streaming through the window, lighting her blonde hair ablaze.  As the shutter clicked I was aware it was a special keepsake. Sometimes you just know you’ve caught a good one.

This was Grace McComas’ first formal dance, where she would receive her first kiss. She’d just turned 14 and was not yet allowed to date.

It was just the beginning of a wonderful and exciting time. Her whole life was ahead of her.    Or so we thought….

Grace McComas with her parents before her first (and only) formal dance

Grace McComas with her parents before her first (and only) formal dance