The era of family graduations has begun. My oldest niece graduated from high school last weekend.
I have eight nieces and nephews; four in my husband’s family, four in mine. Next year will be another niece, then a nephew the year after, then two more nephews the next year. After that, we’ll have a small break in high school graduations, which is perfect, as we’ll start to celebrate the college grads at that point. Then, over the next few years, there’ll be three more nieces and my daughter.
It’s pretty cool how little has changed about the ceremony itself. Although the one thing I found fascinating about this graduation that I don’t recall from my own was the trend of decorating the tops of the caps. Many proclaimed the logo of the college they would be attending in the fall; some wrote funny or sentimental sayings, while a few simply pasted sparkling gems to add a bit of bling.
Everything else was pretty much the same. Including how looooooooong the ceremony was. How hot it became with so many people packed into the facility for all those hours. By the time it was over, it felt like the air hadn’t even been on, yet when we arrived it had been almost cold in the building.
The pics with family were the same as they had been back in the day, too. And we managed to capture one of all the grandkids; a rare occurrence, actually.
Well, almost all the grandkids.
While we sat at dinner afterward, my father-in-law said, “Five more to go.” And then he paused. “Well, four. Should be five, though.”
Yeah, it should be. And if I could pinpoint one aspect of this grieving process that sucks beyond all others, it’s that my son’s ghost now puts a damper on every event in our lives. Moments that should be full of joy are tampered by the fact that there will be no more memories with him in them.
This was the second event recently where I noticed that sensation, that frustration because I couldn’t simply enjoy the moment. Where he hovered in the background, reminding me of what I lost, and not allowing me to simply revel, live my life.
A couple weeks ago, there was an awards ceremony at my daughter’s school. She’s at a new school this year, her first year of middle school. And she managed to make First Honor Roll, as well as was one of only two kids in the whole school with perfect attendance. We were so freaking proud.
And the next day, as I drove to the day job, I started crying. It was one of those moments where it hit with no forewarning. Because two years prior, we’d attended a similar awards ceremony for my son. The one and only one we’d ever attend for him, because he was gone before the end of his seventh grade year.
Now, the school year is almost over, and my daughter will be a seventh grader. I’ll live the entire year in fear, no doubt. His ghost hovering in the shadows, eclipsing everything that happens. It makes me so angry because I don’t want to detract from her successes, from the fact that she’s still here with us, living, moving forward every single day. Growing. Flourishing. Being happy.
That’s what my husband said the other day. “The biggest difference between him and her is she’s always happy.”
Just like I want to be.
Tami Lund is an author, wine drinker, and award winner. Despite the sometimes depressing blog posts she writes, her books all have happy endings. Because that’s how it should be. Check out her website at: http://tamilund.com