I'm barely breathing... just now able to slow it down and inhale deeply.
I haven't cried yet.
Oh - I mean - I have cried... but at the happy memories, at the other graduation ceremonies, at my own girlie tearing up and giving in to the ugly cry because she was oh so proud of friends who made it through despite some very real struggles... but for her, at her ceremony and beyond... no tears!?
People have asked me with real concern dripping sweetly from their tone, "How are you doing, Mama?" and much to everyones' surprise - I am doing fine.
I am blessed and honored to be the Mama to this precious one...
Her - with her soft heart, dry humor, and joyful spirit...
Her with the pride and prowess... her successes and failures... to have been given the task - the Gift - in raising this tiny human into one of the most amazing people I know... it truly has been (and continues to be!) my honor!
I don't feel like I am just holding on... or holding it all together, with gripping fingers and a walled up heart... I just think that sometimes the Gratefulness for what IS can outweigh the sense of loss for what is no longer... both in Graduation and seasons changing, and in real life; in choices made and lives lived on... and that is where I am at!
At this point - it's easier for me... she is not urgently planning an escape. She is not leaving tomorrow for some far off land, or even a dorm room across the state. Her plans are to remain close... if not in this house - at least close-by in this town. It turns out - right now, it seems she likes us almost as much as we like her!
One of my favorite things that she started to say a year or so ago was this:
"I like you!"
Sure... she would explain - "Sure - I love you... I sort of have to love you guys... but I really like you too!" She realized that this was not (-sadly) considered the norm among a lot of her peers. She saw the gift - and counted it as one, consistently. I loved it even more because it started off in a season of rebellion when things were not dream-like or perfect in this house... we were spending some serious time piled up in a heap on the kitchen floor - and yet - because we love her and she never ever ever once had to question that... even (maybe especially!) in the heat of teenagedom and navigating through brokenness and the laying down of some plans made long ago - she liked us!
She likes us still...
So this is how I survived Graduation Week... by Counting on... by listing the Gifts. Not just the big ones, over the span of her life - being relived and recounted in reflections- but the Today gifts that may go unnoticed in the rush of the busy week...
#1267 - The tears of pride, flowing freely, for her friend graduated - on time - having had to learn Math and History and how to pass Science, while learning how to diaper, how to soothe, how to be a Mommy at such a young age.
#1268 - Her last ever DECA Banquet - in which she was honored and it hit her hard that these students would no longer be part of her routine and her Club Advisor would not be someone who would pour into her on a weekly basis any longer.
#1271 - Waterproof Mascara (and how!)
#1274 - The fact that even though she is not super School Spirity - this graduating class has so much school spirit that she couldn't but HELP to get caught up in some of it - the crowd surfing, the face painting, the ham passing/eating, the traveling and missing school to go to State Playoffs, the Ram Zone and how they lovingly called themselves a Ramily... it's something she will always remember as part of her high school experience!
#1275 - The Rammy Awards 'show' - where they all got dressed up and put on a glamorous Red Carpet show with scholarship awards and student voted categories like "Don't be that Guy/Girl" and "Most likely to show up late to Graduation" (of which she was - sadly - nominated!)
#1276 - Stepping up and supporting friends when it would be easier to give some distance and back away... Staying in Community - even when it's hard!
#1277 - The way she stands just like me - and puts ringlet curls in her hair on Graduation day... just like I did - and she does this unaware!
#1278 - Extending Grace but having Boundaries
#1279 - Getting our nails done together - in her School colors... one last time!
#1280 - Bravely wearing her heart on her sleeve and openly giving in to the emotions of the day... lovingly remembering the past, and boldly embracing the end of an era and the beginning of an age!
and this... Just now, this:
#1281 - "Tickle my back" texted to me seconds ago from her room, just down the hall...
...which is why this list is done (for now!)
Speak Life. Be Love. Shine On.
#1282 - When I said, "What? Are you gonna text me when you're 30 and living in another state and ask me to come and tickle your back?" Her immediate response was, "I will never live in a different state, and yes! Yes I will!" (#Swoon!)