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Last weekend was supposed to be graduation weekend for so many college and high school seniors across the country. But dreams of donning a cap and gown and experiencing graduation pomp and circumstance were halted by a microscopic enemy that has turned our world upside down.

The messages and photos on social media blasted across the interwebs were heart-wrenching.

Our Hallmark/Lifetime moments — births and funerals, weddings and baby showers — have ground to a stop. Dead in their tracks.

Our new vocabulary started with coronavirus, social distancing and then quickly moved to words that seemed Orwellian.

Quarantine. Pandemic. Flattening the curve. Community spread. Lockdown, incubation and isolation.

It's hard to remember the time before coronavirus, and it's impossible to see a time anyplace in the future when we will be able to get past it. This disease is mysterious in so many ways, horrifying in its effects and relentlessness.

But I'll add one more adjective for new graduates, be they middle or high school, college or grad school, to ponder about the coronavirus pandemic.

Educational.

Yes, this disease is at the same time harsh and heartbreaking.

But it has given our new crop of graduates — and us in general — a reminder about one universal truth that nothing in this life is guaranteed.

Nothing.

You can work hard and stay late and still lose your job. You can practice all offseason, be ready to make the most of your next chance and that chance never comes.

You can check every box and make every grade and, like the former seniors and now graduates among us, not enjoy the traditional celebrations and praise that come with your accomplishment and that sheepskin.

Think back to the best lessons you have learned, whether from coaches or teachers or parents. Aren't all of them, at least in part, starting from the same thesis?

Life is not fair. Adapt. Adjust. Overcome. Deal or be dealt. Handle or be dismantled. That's life in the grown-up world which does not care about helicopter parents, whether you made your rec league all-star team, whether the bumper sticker on mom's Pilot says "Star Student" or "Honor Roll" or anything else.

COVID-19 sucks. Bad, and in every way.

The disappointment of students finishing their journeys and launching new ones — whether in college, the military, an internship, sports, music, arts or that dream job — is high on my list of sympathies.

But in the end, these young people are living the greatest life lesson they could ever learn.

The realities after the nightmare are just as clear as living the dream — and often more impactful.

Contact Jay Greeson at jgreeson@timesfreepress.com.

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