It’s 12:22 a.m. I’m sitting at my computer, my whiskey resting, hair pulled back into a loose pony-tail. Tonight I said goodbye to two kids who have stolen my heart in ways that I dare not attempt to describe. It went something like this:
I swept them out of their holding pin to grab a quick picture. Of course, in moments like these, only one is needed. It was perfection in one shot.
Fifteen short minutes later, the ceremony began. The teachers led the way, walking in the front of the procession. Upon finding seats, some stood and chatted about idle things. Others, like me, watched in awe as our kids walked down the aisle. There she was, wearing her gown and hat, arm-in-arm with another student, with pure joy written all over her face. There I was, standing 50 feet away, watching her walk toward her future and the tears began before I could take another breath.
“You’re crying already?” said another teacher standing beside me.
“I can’t help it. I’m just a sucker for that girl.”
The ceremony only took an hour and fifteen minutes. And after, we (the teachers) left the gym to form our receiving line so the graduating seniors can file through one-by-one and the entire staff can congratulate them.
Carter was one of the first to walk through. I cried again. He picked me up off the floor in an embrace that was much-needed and long overdue. I told him I was proud of him and he said, “We’ll talk soon. I promise.” I got out of that one easy. He knows I don’t like crying in front of people and walked on quickly to avoid embarrassing me.
It’s funny though, that he knows me that well without me every having to really say anything to him about it. We’ve spent enough time together that he knows my quirks…maybe as much as I know his. Carter is smart like that. It’s one of the reasons that kid stole my heart. He’s right. We will talk soon.
Then she came. And this time we both knew it was an inevitable moment when we’d both cry. I started. She followed. It was a long hug. An “I love you”. A moment that I’ll never forget. I know exactly what it feels like to see your child graduate. I know the pride now. I felt the fear. I felt the deep happiness that you can’t describe in any other way other than to say it just happens. You can’t replicate it. You can’t pray for it to happen. It’s just there. And it overpowers everything else.
My kids graduated tonight. My two amazingly talented, incredibly smart, and terribly under-loved kids are graduates. But they’ll visit me daily. They’ll be in my heart, in my dreams, in my thoughts and prayers and whispers. I’ll glance around the corner, hoping that we’ll cross paths. I’ll send them cards and letters, knowing that they still need encouragement. I’ll spend money I don’t have to take them to dinner because I just want a piece of that happiness again.
The hardest part is knowing that life could take them thousands of miles away from me. The hardest part is knowing that if it does I’ll be relieved because they need to get the hell out of this place. The hardest part is wondering if I could ever love another human being the way I love these two.
The best part is knowing that none of that matters because those kids are in my life and they’ve made all the difference.