Oh, my aching heart.
On this early morning of my middle son’s graduation from high school, I am struck by the fact that my thoughts and emotions are in a very different place than those who will, in a few hours, dress themselves in their caps & gowns, assemble at the high school, and receive their diplomas.
I vividly remember my high school graduation, which is saying a lot because I often struggle to recall what I did five minutes ago. And yet, I remember what I wore, I remember the ceremony, and most of all, I remember that deep inner feeling of accomplishment. My focus was my friends, our celebrations, our last summer together and preparing for college.
Things are a tad different now that I’m the parent. My feelings are a mix of wistful longing for more time, pride, sadness, joy and heartburn. Literally. I just took Tums. I know this day is not about me, and yet, the range of emotions running through me right now is begging for some attention.
How is it that children grow up so quickly?
How is it that I rolled my eyes when people older than me used to tell me to ‘enjoy these moments because they go too fast?’ How could I have been so arrogant to not have listened and appreciated their wise advice?
How could it be that the child who used to have his purple pilly by his side at all times is now driving (a little too fast), graduating (so exciting!) and soon will be leaving for college (sniff)?
The biggest, and perhaps most painful question looming in the back of my head is this: Did I do enough while I had you?
There is no possible way that I can answer these questions other than to step back, look at my son, and see him for who he is today.
Where I wasn’t enough, others stepped forward and ‘the village’ helped.
Sam, you have been blessed to have so many people there for you: Dad, Mary, Eddie, Marge & Pa, Grandpa Stu, Mere and Chris. You have had Jacob, Maythana, Nathany, and Emmy. Your aunts, uncles and cousins. The village extends to people who love you like a son – Sarah & Rich, Susan & Aaron, the McKeon’s, and Leigh to name just a few.
When non-parental advice was needed, you had your friends. Otherwise known as your ‘other family’, these are the people that have, and always will, have your back.
With the deepest sense of love, pride and awe, I want to wish my son and his classmates congratulations on their graduation this afternoon. You are truly a remarkable class. You have weathered some difficult times and have remained strong, close and supportive. You have learned so much and have grown into exceptional people.
Keep growing. Keep learning. Keep exploring.
This is your day, and the future is waiting for you to embrace it.