Last Sunday my husband and I attended our final high school graduation. We listened, in blistering heat, as almost 900 names were read and the young people, dressed in black suits and white dresses, approached the dais for their diplomas. It was bittersweet, as these events always are.
Sweet because my son and his classmates worked hard to get to this day, and they were proud.
Sweet because it's wonderful for my son to contemplate the wide open future and the limitless possibilities for his life.
Sweet for his parents because we succeeded in guiding him to this milestone and helping to form him into the nice, funny, smart person he is today.
Bitter because I will never drive him to school in the morning again, chattering with him about silly things and discovering new pieces with him on the Classical music station.
Bitter because two of the students who should have received diplomas with my son did not live to see their graduations; their parents were there to accept their diplomas for them. How brave of these parents to come to this event in the midst of their grief, and how humbling to the rest of us and our inconsequential problems to see this reality of life: that nothing is guaranteed to us, not even those we love.
This summer will be a transitional one for our family. My eldest son will visit Europe for the first time (the first in our family to do so!), and when he returns he will be looking for a job and an apartment. My younger son will be working to claim the space his brother leaves behind and to gear up for his college career. And my husband and I, like zillions of parents before us, will have to get used to a house that is quiet far more often, and a life that is so, as well.
This, too, will be bittersweet. But just as the future is limitless for those graduates, it is limitless for all of us.
We just have to ride those waves of transition and find the peaceful waters we can enjoy.