Graduation Emotions



Devyn, our oldest, graduated from college last weekend.  It was beautiful evening in South Carolina and Kurt and I watched the ceremony, and in particular our daughter crossing the stage to receive her diploma, with no small amount of pride.  Graduations, in general, are pretty boring affairs, except for the moment your child graduates, which is worth sitting for the other 1 hour, 59 minutes and 57 seconds.  Before and after Devyn's moment, my mind was all over the place, and so were my emotions.

I was struck by the fact that Devyn is now absolutely an adult and amazed by how quickly the past 22 years had gone by.  I remember dropping her off for her first day of kindergarten and unsuccessfully holding back my tears as I walked to my car,  leaving her in a building full of strangers who could not possible value her as I did.  Another mom was walking near me, and I kept my head turned so she wouldn't see my tears. As we were getting into our cars, she turned to me and said, "Thank God, huh?".   I wondered what  kind of cold blooded monster is happy on a day like this?  She looked at me, noted my tears with her cool stare, and I could feel her thinking, 'Amateur'.  How could we have gone from that day, still so fresh in my memory, to this day?  My emotions still get the best of me and I often still feel like an amateur.

As my thoughts continued to drift, I thought of my parents.  How proud they would be to see their oldest grandchild graduate from college.  It was Mother's Day weekend, so I was already missing my mom, but on that night it was the absence of my dad that I felt most keenly.  He battled cancer through my junior high and high school years.  He was in the hospital the day of my high school graduation and died that summer.  He never saw me graduate, get married, become a mom. I like my grown up self so much more than my teenage self.  I selfishly wish he could have seen me at my best.  I felt so proud and privileged to watch Devyn become an adult and I wish my dad could have played a part in Devyn's life story. He would have been a doting grandpa, and I wish he and his grandchildren could have known and enjoyed each other.

I thought about how quickly the next three years will go by, before I know it, Maddy will be a college graduate too.  Tearing up a little, I focused on how much childhood is still left to enjoy with the boys.  It will be a long time before it is Jemberu's turn to graduate. Phew.  That thought comforted me....until  I started to do the math and my emotions turned to terror.  I realized that when Jemby graduates from college, in most places, I will qualify for a senior citizen's discount!  No, that couldn't be right, I was never good at math.  I recalculated and felt myself get a little light headed as I realized I was right the first time.  Yep, Kurt and I are going to be pretty old when that day comes. I hope we'll both be alive. And healthy.  And not senile.  I had a vision of me asking Kurt, "Who is this incredibly handsome black man and why is he calling me Mom?!"   I told myself to snap out of it and focus on the ceremony. Which I did.....and it was quite wonderful.