Hannah and I were taking a walk the other day, and the conversation drifted to a thought prompted by a book she’s reading.  “Moving forward,” Hannah said to me, “is different from moving on.”

“Oh yeah?  How so?” I asked, curious. “What do those terms mean to you?”

“Well, moving on is like forgetting, like you’ve left it behind.  With moving forward, I can still take Dragon with me, but I’m moving forward.”

Good girl.  Before This Happened, Hannah never knew a day without her big brother.  He was her playmate, her competitor, her protector.  On our last trip to Seattle, as we rode our bikes around Bainbridge Island, Hannah said to Dragon, “When we grow up, you get a house in my neighborhood, and I’ll watch your kids and you’ll watch mine.  And Mom and Dad will live there too.”

Dragon elaborated, ever the bossy big brother: “Mom and Dad will give me their house, and I’ll buy one for you.” Dragon loved our current home, the only home he remembers ever having lived in.

And off we went, planning out our golden years with our children and our grandchildren, all of us apparently living in the same neighborhood.

But now… but now.

Sweet Hannah goes to her eighth grade dance this Friday.  She goes to Disneyland with her class next Monday, the same 8th grade Disneyland trip that Dragon’s friend Dana described as one of the best days of her life.  The same 8th grade Disneyland trip that resulted in the roller coaster photo that Dragon’s friend Caleb still keeps in his wallet, that he calls, “the best $20 I ever spent.”

Next Wednesday is Hannah’s eight grade graduation.  And then, this Fall, she starts at the Orange County School of the Arts (OCSA), Dragon’s school.  Hannah is an athlete, a strong volleyball and water polo player.  If you had asked me two years ago about plans for Hannah, I would have put her at Beckman High School, where she could experience being on a high school sports team.  I didn’t foresee that her interest and talent in photography and film would propel her to apply to OCSA, to decide to pursue that passion and enroll in this amazing school of the arts, this school that has no sports teams.  She will still play volleyball with her club, O.C. Heat, but her days will be spent with creative and artistic friends, in the classrooms and halls of the school that Dragon loved.  I’m sure Dragon having gone there has something to do with her decision to be there too, though honestly, a brand new school would have been emotionally easier for me. She’s growing up, our Hannah, having had to mature past her years, having had to survive something no child should be asked to survive.  I’m proud of Hannah for moving forward, taking with her, her brother.  Taking with her, Dragon.