In the bathroom before graduation, T stood with her sisters in front of the mirror and fixed her hair and put shoes on her two-year-old daughter. The little gal sat on the counter and smiled and laughed in her sparkly dress as her mom got ready to stand in front of her family and community and accept a hard-earned honor. There was something powerful and totally alien to me in that moment: I am not a mother, I never had a high school graduation, and if I had it would have meant little to me. I didn’t have to sweat for my diploma and juggle a job and two kids like T. What was going through her head as she looked at herself in that mirror?
T sobbed nearly her whole speech through. I shed some tears, too, when she spoke about her family and I glanced at her mom, just radiating pride, and again when she thanked me for my daily notes (encouragement, relationship advice, grammar) in her writing journal. There couldn’t have been an eye in that gym that stayed dry as T spoke with raw feeling about her children and her hopes for the future. She worked hard to earn the right to stand there, and she glowed with pride. I’ve been to some fun graduations and some boring ones, but never one that felt significant the way that this one did.
This week has been totally exhausting and more than worth it already. Tomorrow night is going to be a blast, and I’m looking forward to sharing the girls’ joy. They’ve worked hard and they’re ready to play hard. My only regret is that I can’t sneak over there right now and unlock the door to throw a midnight mini dance party for a friend or two. I feel like I used to feel in college when I had some great event planned and ready to execute. I have the keys to a totally awesome empty prom-gym in my pocket: there’s a set of bangin’ speakers in there, and some great lighting and a big dance floor covered in balloons. The problem is that I have nobody to unlock the door for, nobody to crank up the tunes so that I can try dancing with the mannequins, nobody to mug with in front of the photo backdrop. I miss you guys. I wish I could share this kickassery with y’all.