Monday, August 23, 2010
Reading the Signs
When the matriculation began yesterday at Grace's new college, bagpipers marched up the aisle in kilts. That is how I know this university is a perfect match for her, in spite of her angst.
Grace loves bagpipes and all things Scottish. So when the pipers began to play and walked up the aisle followed by the drummers and all of those faculty members in robes and funny hats, I knew she was in the right spot.
Matriculation is a ceremony that welcomes the new students and starts them on their schooling career, much like graduation comes at the end.
I had spent the day helping Grace unpack and set up her room. We made lists of things she needed from the grocery and things we needed to send from home. We avoided tears although there was lots of hand clutching. Then Grace went to join her "house" for a meeting and they walked over to matriculation together.
As I sat through the speeches of matriculation, I felt myself blinking back tears. In the invocation, one woman advised the students to "put away your fears" and I wanted to grasp those words and thrust them in Grace's pocket. The president advised students to "look to the stars" to realize how small they are and their problems are in comparison to the world.
I just wanted this to work for her. I wanted it to be easy for her as well.
In the end, each of the new students walked out under the banner of their houses. They stood in circles in the fieldhouse and we were allowed to say a brief goodbye before we left them.
I hurried through the groups of students looking for Grace's house. I didn't want her to think we weren't coming for a goodbye. I felt a sob gurgle up and swallowed it down. And I saw her then, her plaid rainboots covering her feet. Her high school sweatshirt proclaiming her name and sport.
We hugged and cried and wiped mascara. And then we left for our 10-hour drive home. There was no going back.
And that lasted until about 11 when the cell phone started to ring and Grace's voice was muffled by sobs. She hurt physically and she couldn't do this.
So we talked her down. Just one night, make it one night. Eventually, as we drove through the rain, the phone stopped ringing and we assumed she had fallen asleep.
The darkness of the New York thruway closed in around us as we headed home to our boys who would begin high school on Tuesday.
We had taken a back to school photo before Grace left, one to put with the other photos for posterity.
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