Friday, May 17

For Evan

by Margie Senechal
Today, my nephew, Evan, graduates and tomorrow is the 39th anniversary of Mt. St Helens.

 It’s funny because everyone remembers the event differently. On Facebook, I’ll see, “Where were you when the mountain blew?” and read recollections of being on the schoolyard or in class. But it was a Sunday—I checked just to make sure I wasn’t the one remembering wrong—so, no, you probably weren’t.

On a clear day, we could see Mt. St. Helens from a place on our street. I have a picture from a July eruption that looks like a nuclear bomb cloud that people have tried to pass off as the original eruption. Funny thing was, May 18th was overcast and thick clouds—a lot like today, actually. I remember seeing a black cloud that spread like a huge bee swarm crawl across the sky toward the east.

I was a senior that year—which if you want to do the math, means next year I’ll have graduated 40 years ago. I was the co-editor of my school paper, The Bay Window. And in our farewell issue, I wrote an editorial about Mt St Helens and the significance of it erupting during our senior year.

I had big dreams when I was eighteen. I wanted to see the world and make my mark. I wanted to be published and become the all-American novelist—whatever that meant. 
I wanted to be a wife, a mother, and a writer. All of those came true, even if I haven’t published a bestselling novel. You’re reading this and that’s proof enough. And I wouldn’t trade my husband, daughters, or the life we’ve shared for anything.
For Evan, I wish you the power of dreams. I hope you find your passion and pursue it—even if it’s just a hobby. Hobbies can bring you happiness as well. 

I hope that you are open to love wherever you find it, but maybe not too soon. When I was your age, I thought I’d live to be in my 70’s or 80’s if I was lucky. You and your generation may well live into your early 100’s, maybe longer. 
I felt like I had to be in a hurry to reach out for my adult life. Don’t rush through your youth. Look for adventure while you’re young enough to enjoy it and your body can take it. 
I hope you revel in the laughter of your friends and family (because, we are the best), that you seek out the good in everyone, and that in almost forty years, you’ll be able to look back and be proud of more than you are ashamed of.
Happy Graduation, Ev! I love you.


  1. Congratulations, Evan! All the best from the Wranglers. Listen to your Aunt Margie--she has much to teach.

  2. That's a lovely sentiment for your nephew. He's very lucky to have you as his auntie.

    My memory of the Mount St. Helen's eruption is from a distance of a couple of thousand miles, give or take. I was in university in Regina, Saskatchewan, and though we were so far away, I vividly remember the dust from the eruption that landed thick on everything. It's hard to believe it's been 39 years!