My Son's Emotional Ceremony

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My Son's Emotional Ceremony
Pauline shares her feelings as she watches her son graduate.

My son graduated last weekend. Up to the actual day of the ceremony, I was doing a dang good job of ignoring/avoiding what was coming up. That my first born will be leaving soon. That this chapter is now closed: the one where he grows up with me there to guide him. That I’m old enough to have a son who is graduating from high school. I wasn’t thinking about any of this.

Case in point:
A few weeks ago when my husband realized that a gig he had set up last fall fell on graduation weekend. I felt bad for both husband and son--my son would miss not having Steve there, and Steve really wished he could be there. (It was an out of town, three-day gig that he could not really opt out of.) I was angry at how the timing of things occasionally just works out so crappy. However, I didn’t connect his absence with anything to do with my frame of mind. Why should I? I was handling everything just fine. I didn’t need Steve there for me. In fact, when loved ones asked this past week, “How are you doing with all of this?” I would shrug and say I was doing just fine. And I was just fine: denial was doing its job.

And then Saturday arrived, and BANG! It hit me. Right between the eyes: kicking my butt, flinging me around and stomping on my heart. I woke up feeling beat up. I felt lethargic and teary all day. On the edge. I dialed a wrong number and got choked up. Denial, my brain declared, is no longer an option. This is happening.

I knew I should be feeling excitement and pride, but mostly my heart was filled with anxiety and a sadness I couldn’t really put my finger on. I mean, how can we be expected to give our children away? We’ve protected, nurtured, disciplined, coddled, influenced and loved these beautiful little people like NOTHING ELSE IN THE WORLD. They are ours, damn it.

So, yes, I felt it keenly: my husband wasn’t there. And I needed him. Not the graduate, but the mother of the graduate. I couldn’t believe how much I missed him; how intensely I felt Steve’s physical absence.

As family and friends showed up, I pulled it together. The distraction was a big help; lots of hugs an even bigger help. So the tears dried up until, of course, the band started "Pomp and Circumstance" at the ceremony. There they were, this time including my son, entering with their flowing gowns. It was a potent, magical, teary moment.

I wanted Steve there next to me during the ceremony. I wish he would have been part of the get-together at the house afterward. I was surrounded by love, but I wanted him. He’s the only one in the world whose touch, whose arms around me can soothe me.

And that got me thinking….

First of all, that I should just get over it, and take the drama down a notch…he’d be home the next day, for crying out loud.

And second of all…..that the power of physical love, the physical connection, between lifetime partners is unmatched. I’m not talking sex here…well….yes, sex is part of it, but only a part. I’m talking about a partner’s touch. There’s just nothing more powerful out there. It really does deserve to be treated with supreme respect. And never taken for granted. I forget this sometimes, but last weekend brought it all back home….

….along with Steve. So I feel better now. That is, until the day we drop my son off at college a very long way from home.

This concludes another view from my married life.

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