Saturday, June 02, 2007

Graduation wish to my daughter


Getting the grad ready, originally uploaded by juliecinci.

Everybody can be great because anybody can serve. You don't have to have a college degree to serve. You don't have to make your subject and verb agree to serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love. --Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Today I'm proud of my daughter for her academic achievements (to be sure) because they represent a depth of commitment that deserves commendation. Johannah told me yesterday that she never did have senioritis. She worked hard all the way to the end because she cared that much about school, liked the subjects she was studying that well, wanted to finish as she started. She graduated with high honors and joy in what she learned.

But what stands out to me more today is the way she has embraced those who are overlooked, less advantaged. Too much to discuss here, but she "gets" it about what she owes to the world. I know her life will matter because it already has.

It's an emotional day for me. I keep seeing these flashes of the girl she's been and the woman she's becoming.... they aren't those soft focus montages that you see in movies. I don't see clips of her life developing in a neat chronology, showing me her face as it changes from baby cheeks to braces to mature teen. I see fragments of blurred memories, all mixed up with photos and videos and fabrications I call memories. I can't get any of them to sharpen in my mind. Instead, I feel them more than see or remember them.

It's weird how a movie will make you think that the characters live forever in that story, at that age, as though the events in the movie are happening at all times, never growing up.

Life really isn't a movie and there's nothing to repeat or re-experience or see. It marches forward overtaking the memory of yesterday and muddying it so that it never lives as freshly or truly as it did before. Remembering obscures the new memory that needs to be created in that moment. It's get complicated.

Noah was with us today for graduation. There he was--sitting with us at dinner as a guest. Yes, family, but he was "out of our loop" and had to be brought up to speed on things he'd missed. He's getting ready to leave, to have an adventure in California building houses. His girlfriend will go with him. They will be gone all summer.

It's so different now.

I keep trying to see the kids all snuggled up together with me in the family room as I read to them. I see it in fragments. I can feel that memory. But it wasn't ever as rosy as a movie would make it. It was real life, filled with interruptions, babies who needed nursing, hunger, a cold family room because the windows leaked winter air, and Legos spread on the floor that no one liked to pick up. Even in that mixed up life that tried to be a daily routine, I knew that all these little guys were together with me, with us, ours. We were all creating united memories, a story that we could tell together. It was our shared life.

That's what's over. It's not that there aren't new adventures ahead, with weddings and jobs and acts of bravery and service and grandbabies... all of which will inspire and involve Jon and me. It's that our family story that is acted out together in one family room is gone. That cohesion that gave me deep meaning is passing. That's what creates the shortness of breath, the tight chest.

I'm proud of Johannah today. I can't wait to watch her blossom in college. But I miss everything about her right now too, and she's not even gone yet.

12 comments:

Kansas Bob said...

Add my best wishes to yours. Children are truly a blessing from heaven - most of the time :)

australisa said...

LOL, Catrin's expression!

Dalissa 365 said...

Tears. Happy yet wistful. Thanks for sharing these wishes.

Rebecca C said...

Your family is doing a lot of graduating right now --- congratulations.

Is your younger dd reacting with horror? LOL!

Rebecca

Sandy said...

Beautiful, Julie. Tears here.

That next to the last paragraph identified and put words to what I've felt slipping away the past few years - time for that shared experience.

Steve said...

Julie:
I am learning from you what lies close ahead on our family's road ahead. Thank you for your thoughtful reflection on a life full to overflowing.

Anonymous said...

I happened on your blog through a mutual friend. My eldest also graduated this year and your eloquence sums up the feelings precisely. Tears (as well as great hope and pride) I will share your entry with Sarah as the words as perfect.

Ampersand said...

That's what's over. It's not that there aren't new adventures ahead, with weddings and jobs and acts of bravery and service and grandbabies... all of which will inspire and involve Jon and me. It's that our family story that is acted out together in one family room is gone. That cohesion that gave me deep meaning is passing. That's what creates the shortness of breath, the tight chest.

Thanks for this wonderful expression of what is both lost and gained as our kids become young adults. I'm nearing that time myself, and I can feel them starting to slip out of the family room and into their lives.

julieunplugged said...

Rebecca, that's my younger daughter hamming it up for the camera! :) She's mortified that that look made it onto my blog. :) Sweet revenge.

Thanks too, anon! Welcome.

Julie

Dave said...

Lovely post, Julie. What a picture! :o)

Susanne B. said...

Lovely post. Tears here. E is only three years behind Johannah, and I know our time to be together as a family is very short.

Then the absurd kicked in. "Is that a BRA STRAP on Julie's shoulder???? :)

Tears and laughter -- the stuff o' life.

julieunplugged said...

You are so right! I have to wear one with two outfits I own and this is one of them. It's hilarious because I even noticed it in the photos and it cracks me up you pointed it out!

Julie