Sarah Stultz: New school year brings a flood of emotions

Published 10:01 pm Monday, September 3, 2018

Nose for News, By Sarah Stultz

“I wonder what she might have looked like at this age?” I thought to myself as I looked through photos of my daughter’s friends from the first day of school on Facebook last week.

It has been two years and two months since my daughter passed away, and I can’t believe how much these friends of hers have grown. Not only are they taller, but they look more grown up and like young adults. The next thing I know, they’ll be teenagers.

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Sophie would have been in fifth grade this year — her last year of elementary school before moving on to the middle school.

As I see how much my son has grown in the last two years and two months, it makes me wonder how she would have grown, too — not just in height, but in maturity, personality and even interests.

What would her hobbies have been? Would she still have liked drawing, reading and playing with her friends?

Would she still have liked singing her heart out during her children’s class at church and in the car while listening to the radio? Though she didn’t have a perfect voice, I loved that she put her heart into everything she did.

I think of her many times every day, but I’ve learned there are multiple times a year that I think of her even more. The beginning of a new school year is one of those times. This is our third new school year without her here with us.

As I bought some new school clothes for my son before school started, I thought about her as I walked past the girls’ section of clothes on my way to the boys’ area. What kind of clothes would she have liked?

Would she have liked to wear her hair long like it was for most of her life or shoulder-length like we got it cut a month or so before she died?

Sophie loved school. She loved learning. She loved reading — and seeing her friends every day was just icing on the cake.

I will always have a soft spot in my heart for Lakeview Elementary School, where she attended classes and walked the halls for three years and gained her foundation in education. Every time I drive past the school I think of her and the last time she was there as she ended her second-grade year.

Because of the services my son receives, we are now familiarizing ourselves with Halverson Elementary School, though it still seems like going home when I walk in the front doors of Lakeview. I have no doubt she is continuing to learn on the other side.

As we get into our new school routine with our son — and he tries to stall each night to prolong his bedtime — it reminds me of her. She used to do the same thing, and I can’t help but smile when I see him do it, too.

I hold these memories close as we move forward each day, one foot in front of the other.

Our lives have changed since we last saw her, but one thing remains: Our love for each other lives on.

Sarah Stultz is the managing editor of the Tribune. Her column appears every Tuesday.