Just Jones

Gracefully Avoiding My Grace Period


It’s Monday, September 12th — the date of one of Parker’s most treasured senior traditions, Big Siblings Little Siblings. I fiddle with my white jeans and royal blue t-shirt as The Dream Academy’s Please, Please, Please plays on the way to school. 

“Last night a member of our Parker community, Sofia Jones, mother of Zan and Rania Jones, lost her battle to breast cancer.” Silently, I held my breath as Dan Frank informed the entire Parker community that my mom died. As I sat as a spectacle in front of a gym full of senior parents, faculty, and the entire student population of Parker, my friends squeezed my hands. I watched as previous teachers and parents of friends of mine cried. This wasn’t how it was supposed to be. 

My second Monday back to school this year should’ve been a day spent enjoying my little siblings, walking hand-in-hand with my senior class, and celebrating the commencement of my last year of high school. Instead, I spent fifty minutes in the Big Gym trying to pretend that my mom hadn’t died the night before. Chaotic enough, my life consumed with college, dealing with a long list of “first-lasts” and trying to soak in every moment possible, quickly became coupled with trying to grieve and heal from an immense loss. 

That Monday, I only went to school for fifty minutes. I came home, got coffee, and proceeded to organize my entire closet. In other words, it took only one half-day at home to drive me to absolute boredom. Regardless, the entire day I was daunted by one big question: when was I going to go back to school? I had two options: a) take as many days off as I wanted or b) return to school. But if you know me, you know that this was really no question at all. The most un-Rania thing ever would be choosing to stay home in bed over spending the day at school. 

More than anything, I thank Parker amidst all of this. All of my teachers made a point of talking to me and giving me the freedom to do school at whatever capacity I wanted to. Some teachers offered me free passes to leave class whenever I wanted, others offered tickets out of projects and tests or labeled mandatory assignments as optional. The general, persistent theme remained that however much I was willing to do would be acceptable. But I wasn’t and still am not convinced by that. Was I just going to fail all of my classes? Tank my GPA? What would colleges see come time for mid-semester reports? Would I have gone pass-fail? I couldn’t convince myself then that opting out of school wouldn’t affect my future. What if my inability to perform in the fall affected everything I had worked for? I remain unconvinced that my early decision school “wouldn’t have minded” if I opted out of the first three months of class. 

As the question of did I make the right choice echoes around in my head, I trust my judgment. This journey for me has been about my community. I have chosen to heal in a more unconventional way than most people would expect or want, and that’s okay. I heal by crying over upcoming calculus quizzes, spending lunch talking about Broadway with Bruno, walking to starbucks every A break with my friends, nerding out in Laufer, debating in Barr, eating Starbursts at the MUN dias, even by spending my afternoons singing in the choir room. Whether it’s getting ridiculed by Daniel for reading ahead, or spending my lunches next to Samantha in the Senate — these people are my family and this place is my home.

Choosing to not spend these past few months in-school playing sports games against Latin, doing layout in class, complaining about needing coffee, snacking on Parker bagels, doing homework in the math wing, or pursuing my academics, would have never helped me grieve or heal. Pressing “pause” on my life, for me, would have meant losing who I am.  


You know you love me, 

Rania Jones