Life is absurd. And life is precious. Family is a lot of both.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Dear Graduates

How many times in the last few days have you said, “I can’t believe it’s finally here!”? It’s finally your turn to wear the funny hats and process in with your class and listen to the speeches and cross the stage and wave your diploma and smile for a million photos. It’s The Class of 2014, baby, and no one is more excited than you…baby.

What you see.
 Please understand that though you are tall and mature and practically grown up in every way, all we really see as you’re walking that stage is a bunch of babies. Preschoolers. Gap-toothed elementary students. Awkward middle schoolers. Eager freshmen. Anything but the adults you just turned into while we blinked.

What I see.
We may cry. You’ll just have to try to understand. What’s happening on Sunday is a milestone. You’re a smart bunch so you can easily define milestone. The thing is, when it’s your own milestone you can recognize and celebrate it. But you keep on moving forward so it’s quickly behind you and you are focused on something new ahead. For those who love you, who have raised you, it’s a marker that boldly proclaims, “Things will never the same.” Ever.

You were tiny once. Then you crawled and we put away the dangerous things. Then you walked and we locked the cabinets and doors. Then you ran and we bought more bandaids. This was about the time you let go of our hands and went to school for the first time. You learned to read and didn’t ask us for bedtime stories quite as often. Then you started playing sports or joined clubs and you quit coming home right after school. Then you learned to drive and, well, we wondered aloud sometimes if you even still lived here. (Your full laundry hamper and our empty pantry shelves assured us you were still in residence even if we never saw you.)

These were all good things. Of course we wanted you to grow and become and do the things you were meant to do. So we celebrated each new milestone with a smile and a cheer. But as each one passed, we realized those milestones were scattered along a path that was taking you away. “Things will never be the same.” the milestones declared. And we wept while we cheered.

Which is exactly what we will do on Sunday.  You just grew up. And in many wild and wonderful ways, things will never be the same.


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