It happened last week, a high school graduation. It was expected, strived for, and it came as a total surprise. I knew, and yet I didn’t know, that this was an event for me as much as it was for him.
I once told a new pediatrician Henry’s health history: Well, he had a placental abruption when he was born.
“Actually, you had a placental abruption. That was something that happened to you,” he said in that quiet way doctors have of sharing life-changing information. Oh, yes. To me. I had that event. Henry had a linked event, that he was born needing to be resuscitated. Same people involved, same time, not the same events.
From senior photos through to the actual ceremony, I held on to this like a mantra, delivering it to myself in the same kind pediatrician tone: Actually, this is happening to you.
He is graduating from High School. Yes, that’s happening to him. He’s thrilled. He’s excited. He’s the star of an event. He gets to wear a costume.
What is happening to me is that I am matriculating a boy into an adult life. I won’t be taking him to school in the mornings or sending in snack money. I deleted the recurring Tuesday/Wednesday ‘Pick up HB & Giles’ appointments from my outlook calendar. They will not recur.
My friends and family came to the graduation. They brought cards for him, tucked with cash and gifts. One friend brought me a a gift. It is a necklace made from sustainable nuts.
You don’t have to look very far for an apt metaphor of my 18 year effort towards getting him the education he needed.
A Sustainable Nut:
A nut is a dry fruit consisting of an edible kernel or meat enclosed in a woody or leathery shell.
Synonyms of sustainable include:
The meaty kernel of continual, unceasing, work created viable, feasible, imperishable results in a person who has turned it into fuel that will be renewable support for him in this seemingly-unending pummeling of life that is ultimately, worthwhile.
It’s a perfect honor. And it’s really pretty too.