The Days Are Long But The Years Are Short

I attend graduation ceremonies like nobody’s business…because…well…

…it is my business.

See, when your business is serving high school students it’s a natural outflow that you’d be there to celebrate this milestone with them. By my count, over my 22 years of student ministry involvement, I’ve now attended 83 ceremonies.

But this one was different.

This one was personal.

Because the name that would get called would be the one that my wife and I spent hours trying to decide upon. It was a name that’s been said with great patience and instruction in the child-rearing process. It’s a name we’ve cheered at early-age dance recitals and game-winning hits. It’s a name we’ve uttered wondering where she was when she didn’t respond to text messages. It’s a name we heard her friends ask for on the phone when they called. It’s a name we’ve whispered trying to make sure she’s awake when she slept in later than we expected. It’s a name we’ve called out in warning to keep her from some sort of toddler danger. It’s a name we saw on countless (and I do mean countless) catalogues and letters from colleges.

And we’d hear it called out at the Meyerson last week at the graduation ceremony for Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts.

But this time it wasn’t business related.

It was personal.

And I’d been given plenty of warning from friends a little further down the path than I am. Well, moms. They all seemed to say things like, “You’ll cry thinking about how fast it all went.” The dads were a bit more reserved, “Yeah. It’s pretty cool seeing your kid walk across the stage.”

So, I went in not knowing what to expect.

But we headed downtown (which I always enjoy) and got there in plenty of time. We were given 10 tickets…9 of which were eaten up by family. The extra was eaten up by Kid1’s boyfriend. Everyone was only given 10 so the math worked for us…and we scored pretty decent seats given that we were trying to find 10 together in “festival seating” fashion.

And this graduation was better than most. Let’s just say art school kids get the chance to show the paintings, interpret the dance, perform the song, and act the scene for about 5 minutes each. Then they got to the business of calling the names–which for 181 kids took roughly 20 minutes.

The teacher called the name we put so much thought and effort into giving.

The users of our 10 tickets cheered and took pictures and whooped.

It was indeed pretty cool to see your kid walk across the stage.

But I was nowhere close to crying.

The moment was more surreal than emotional for me. I couldn’t believe that I was standing where I was doing what I was doing and hearing what I was hearing and seeing what I was seeing. Ferris was right. Life moves pretty fast. So, I took his advice and just slowed down and enjoyed the moment.

Maybe it wasn’t sad for me because Kid1 has made it pretty easy for us to be first-time parents of a preacher’s kid.
Maybe it wasn’t sad for me because Kid1 has been celebrating for the better part of a month with awards ceremonies and sermons in big church and recognitions and invitations and general celebrations of her.
Maybe it wasn’t sad for me because Kid1 has big plans for the future that we’ve been spending a lot of time focusing on.
Maybe it wasn’t sad for me because Kid1 has made us plenty proud of her accomplishments in her four years of high school.
Maybe it wasn’t sad for me because Kid1 has friends and family that were all about celebrating this accomplishment.
Maybe it wasn’t sad for me because Kid1 has and end of summer move-out-date that has more potential for sadness than this night.

I don’t know.

What I do know is that it was fun and I was happy and I enjoyed the moment. It was beautiful. And I enjoyed the post-ceremony dinner with family. And I’ve enjoyed the hoopla surrounding it.

But I can assure you of this: It’s much more enjoyable when it’s not work related. When you share a genetic link to the person all the hoopla is about, well, sometimes you simply marvel at how blessed you are.

***Anyway, I’ll have some more thoughts on graduation and my life station in the next few days, but here are some photos and commentary of the big night.

Aunt Jodie, my nephew Peyton and partner-in-crime Katelyn who all came in for a visit before the big night:

The Higher-Order Life-Living Sister Jilly came in for the big night. Check me out in a suit!

Father-in-Law Murray with his two daughters. I imagine at some point in the future I’ll take a similar photo. I’d bet his pride in raising these two women runs pretty high.

Kid1 & Kid2!

One of the few recent photos of our family together in one spot. Usually, Tracy is behind the lens so it’s some combination of the other 3…even if in this one nobody was sure exactly which family member to look at as they were all holding cameras.

The proud grandparents. It wasn’t until I looked at this picture that it hit me that I’d pay any price to have another one with Charlotte and Eddie. My parents would’ve loved this moment if they’d lived to see it.

Aunt Jodie with the graduate!

Aunt Jill with the graduate!

Like I said earlier, I’ll have some more thoughts on graduation and my life-station, but suffice to say it was a wonderful night with family that I wouldn’t trade for a million bucks.