5.24.2013

graduation day

Graduation day approaches. All but the seniors have gone back home. In the fields enormous white tents have been erected awaiting literally thousands of hungry graduates, parents and siblings who will soon bespatter themselves with two thousand lobsters aside drawn butter, steak, chicken and corn.

Outside, rain falls softly as I take my evening walk through the backyard gardens with Rudy. In the twilight, rhododendron blooms glow against soaking bark. Under my feet lay a carpet of green and in the still I can hear the college chapel bells ring as they will on graduation day.

This is the time of year when I imagine what it must be like for the students’ parents—many who are my age—when they see their child, their own flesh and blood, accomplish something so great. Their hearts must burst, their eyes brimming at the image of cap and gown and diploma, of suit and tie and frilly summer dress and open-toed shoes and smiles and cheers and hugs and so much pride, enough even for me to leech.

No doubt most of these young adults will go on to do great things. They’ll become doctors and lawyers and journalists and philanthropists and teachers and mathematicians and scientists and  entrepreneurs and writers and editors and politicians. They’ll travel or start their own company or take over the family business. Some will fail and others will get lost. A handful may meet with tragedy. But most of these dapper, elastic college graduates will succeed, enjoy independence, become shining stars.

And though my boy Calvin is only nine, I’m already envious, find myself coveting what these parents and their children have, which is a bright future full of hope and opportunity. I imagine these mothers and fathers and their offspring standing in the serving line under the tent, their spiky heels and oxfords sinking into the lawn as they happily clutch plastic forks and cups, paper plates and napkins. I’ll stroll past the crowd pushing Calvin as he sits performing his usual antics. I’ll be trying to thwart his eye poking and hoping he doesn’t have a seizure. Then, one of those charming college boys will do what they do, which is to tip his head and smile, perhaps say hello. With genuine emotion I’ll return his kind sentiment and then, as we walk on, my heart will most certainly die a silent death.

photo by Michael Kolster

7 comments:

  1. You know Christy, all those kids have something to offer, which will leave their thumbprint on life. But Calvin will leave his too. He may not be a bank president or a store manager or a construction worker, but he will leave his thumbprint by teaching people patience, empathy, joy and more. We won't know for a long time all that he will teach our world, but it may actually be a much more important and valuable thumbprint than any freakin bank president or lawyer. I know you are sad for what could have been, but your life will mean a whole lot more to Calvin than paying for his college. A lot of people don't have the capacity to do what you do everyday of your life. You are a richer person, even if some days feel like crap. It may not feel like it now, but when you are old and reflect back on these days, I think you will be very proud of yourself. Your friends are certainly proud of you.

    Leslie

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    1. dear leslie,

      what you say is so true. i just wish that calvin didn't have to suffer, that we didn't have to watch him suffer, that it wasn't so goddamn hard. and that is coming from someone who likes a challenge! calvin has already done all the things you mention and more and i do have a rich, rich life.

      xoxo

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  2. Given the enormous challenges Calvin faces, his accomplishments are also amazing.

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  3. His accomplishments are wonderful. Liberal arts grads do become lawyers and doctors and politicians, but they also become worriers, obsessors and over-thinkers. Calvin and Bowdoin graduates will bring different things into the world. Although I do not know him personally, I am sure that Calvin will bring an ability to be in the moment and a simplicity that the majority of Phi Beta Kappa members and Fulbright scholars cannot achieve.

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    1. thank you julianna. you are so sweet.

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  4. I second Leslie Burns' comments...Right On!!! You may feel "who needs it" for the comment you are a richer person, but it is true you have a depth and significance very few others have--because mostly their lives are so much easier. Do try to see and know that truth....

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    1. i do, carol, along with the rest of the shitty reality that is epilepsy. but i do see that my boy is the purest heart there is. MY boy. xoxo

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