Graduating is a HUGE milestone. Whether you’re graduating from middle school, high school, or college. You’ve made it.
I just graduated from college and it was as bittersweet as you would have expected it to be. I walked into Madison Square Garden, walked down the steps, looked from side to side trying to spot my family, and once I found them I smiled. Then I wanted to cry.
I loved having them there to support me and applaud when I walked, but I was painfully aware of who was missing. My mom and grandma weren’t going to celebrate graduation with me. My grandmother and I had talked about this moment for years, especially during my second semester when graduation was only months away. She wanted to buy me a small cake and celebrate with family at our house. She knew I wanted to be a journalist and didn’t understand why I was still working (read:interning) for free. She was looking forward to my graduating more than I probably did.
But, then she passed away a little over 2 months before I was set to graduate.
I remember being in the moment, listening to her doctors talk about how she wasn’t going to make it, and thinking, challenging my G-d to give me a few months. “Let her just see me in my cap and gown, please.” I’m pretty sure this was what I was mumbling into my brother’s shirt when he hugged me.
Yes, many will say that my mom and grandma were looking down at me – smiling and proud. To an extent, any other day, this is a comforting thought. But in that moment, when I was finally allowed to move my tassel from right to left, those words were just a heavy reminder that I wasn’t walking out of Madison Square Garden a college grad and into their arms. I was walking into their memories.
After graduation my family and I went to lunch and celebrated. We laughed, told stories, and pictures were taken. When my friend asked how my day was, I said “less bitter and more sweet than I expected.”
I won’t feel guilty about enjoying this moment, but it doesn’t mean I don’t feel the emptiness too.
Photo found: here