Many parents share back-to-school and last-day-of-school traditions with their kids, marking the occasion with photos and treats. In the case of Savannah Inthalangsy and her mother, Phelana Foster, their tradition began with a selfie and ice cream.
“I love tradition, so I like to start new traditions,” Inthalangsy told CBS DFW in Dallas. “And anything to get ice cream.”
At the end of Inthalangsy’s first day as a freshman at John Horn High School in Mesquite, Texas, mother and daughter snapped a picture together. In the photo, they’re holding ice cream cones and smiling.
It was the beginning of a school tradition that would carry on through Inthalangsy’s high school years. Mom and daughter took another selfie on the last day of her freshman year of high school, and again on the first and last days of her sophomore and junior years. Sometimes they both held cups from Starbucks instead of ice cream.
When Inthalangsy began her senior year of high school, the pair once again smiled for a selfie. But sadly, her mother wasn’t there for the last day of school photo. She died on Dec. 19, 2017, at age 45.
Foster was diagnosed with ovarian cancer when her daughter was in the sixth grade. She battled the disease after her initial prognosis, but last year, she had a brain aneurysm. She went into a coma on the way to the hospital and died later.
Their selfie tradition meant a lot to Inthalangsy, though she had no way of knowing her mother would die before they could take their last picture.
To honor her mom, she visited her mother’s grave on the last day of senior year. With a Starbucks cup in hand, and one set on the gravestone for her mother, Inthalangsy took one last selfie to commemorate completing high school.
She posted the heartbreaking montage of photos on Twitter:
Yesterday was my last day of high school. For 4 years I’ve taken pictures with my mom on my first and last days of school. She wasn’t able to make it for the last one, but her strength motivated me to stay strong during this time. All of my hard work is for her! ❤️👩🏽🎓 pic.twitter.com/pDGlOEoxod
— 𝖘𝖆𝖛-𝖆𝖌𝖊 🥀 (@nanatat07) May 23, 2018
“Yesterday was my last day of high school,” she wrote in her tweet on May 23. “For 4 years I’ve taken pictures with my mom on my first and last days of school. She wasn’t able to make it for the last one, but her strength motivated me to stay strong during this time. All of my hard work is for her!”
Inthalangsy graduated from John Horn High School on May 26, and she plans to get a degree in education from the University of North Texas.
“She never got her bachelors’ degree to teach education but she was able to teach at daycares,” Inthalangsy said of her mother. “And I always said that I wanted to get my bachelors degree and I always said that I loved education, too.”
We’re feeling inspired by Inthalangsy’s emotional post to hug our own moms a little tighter today, and we’re wishing her good luck as she starts college in the fall!