Monday, May 30, 2011

A Day Long Awaited

I'm back!

For short periods of time, anyway.

I broke my arm two months ago and have been trying to keep it sort of easy just maintaining my regular blog. Anyway, I'm back today with my entry for The Red Dress Club's memoir topic: Graduation. Here goes.

It was time.

I hadn't been nervous until now. Even thinking about all the things that could go wrong...

falling down the stairs
tripping across the stage
the cap falling off
getting my gown caught

None of that made me nervous. If any of those things had happened, I would have shrugged it off, laughed about it, and remembered it was graduation and no one would be around to think of that girl who face planted at the feet of the Dean. 

I marched the recessional in step behind a stranger. My cheeks burned as I moved ever closer to the door. To them.

I didn't know the last time my parents had been in a room together. Years.

The divorce had been friendly enough. As friendly as divorces can go, anyway. But somewhere along the way, that all changed. Maybe it was when Dad remarried. Or when Mom let us change religions without asking him about it first. Over the years, the friendliness turned ugly until they finally stopped speaking altogether.

And now they were reunited for my college graduation, which came about five years later than it should have. 

My parents are both reasonable adults, civil and diplomatic when the situation calls for it. I learned that from both of them. It's a trait that has served me well in many occasions. Mom even said it would be good to get it out of the way before my brother's wedding a few months later.

Still, I was nervous. 

At the door I said good bye to a few of the classmates who had become friends over the past two years. We hugged and promised to email and were quickly swamped by a sea of crying mothers and proud grandparents and kids that whined about being hungry.

I scanned the crowd as best I could from my 5 feet and 4 inches, but my family was nowhere to be found. My cheeks burned as I imagined my parents going off in opposite directions, refusing to speak or to be seen together. 

Would that really happen?

I stopped and took a deep breath and there was a tap on my shoulder.

It was my mother.

"Congratulations!" she practically screamed, pride radiating from her pores as she threw her arms around me. 

My dad hung back just a bit with my step-mom, my brother and his fiancĂ©e, letting us have our moment. When I let go of my mom, Dad stepped forward and offered his own congratulations. 

I watched them. Looking for signs of something. Of bitterness or friendliness. Anything that would reveal how the rest of the weekend would go.

Things seemed a little awkward. Or was that just me?

"We were talking about dinner," my mom said, shifting a meaningful look in my father's direction. "But we realized we don't know what's around here. Suggestions?"

I laughed. And threw out of couple of ideas. And then I went to dinner with my parents.


Galit Breen said...

Sob, sniffle.

You really captured this moment, your worries and the sweet relief when your parents came through.

Thank goodness they came through!

{I'm so sorry about your arm!}

Amy @ Never-True Tales said...

I really like this. It doesn't sugarcoat the effects of divorce on kids, even when those kids are nearly grown, but it shows hope and healing, too.

Wild Child Mama said...

Those moments when your parents have to get together are really strange, aren't they? The first few. Now that I have kids they are in the same room twice a year for birthdays. I like sitting back and watching how they "act" toward each other. Mostly they stay in opposite rooms.

It's wonderful that they came together for you. Parents do so much for us that we don't even know. Most of the time:)

Mel said...

Isn't it funny how your major focus was this family relationship and not the major accomplishment? You did a great job of describing the anxiety and the relief, both of which go along with being a child of divorce (and which happened to go along with your graduation).

Katie @ Chicken Noodle Gravy said...

The feelings of nervousness regarding your parents perfectly parallels the feelings of nervousness regarding the fact, they eclipse them. Very nicely written. I'm glad you go to enjoy both of your parents on your graduation day.

Stopping by from TRDC. Thanks for stopping by my blog as well!

Writerly Wanna Be said...

We recently went through this for my daughter's wedding. A big debate on the walking down the aisle. It turned out beautiful, a dad on each side. And everyone got along beautifully all day! It is difficult though, and you did express all the emotions of it perfectly.

Kelly said...

You portrayed these feelings of trepidation very well. It's much better when we can all just get along isn't it? My ex comes for Sunday dinner sometimes and even though my kids are grown, I think it is really important that we can be civil.

The Drama Mama said...

I'm so glad your parents were parents for you at this moment, and made it all about you instead of them.

You wrote this so well that I felt your anguish and frustration with them, and then your happiness at the end.

I always enjoy your writing. Hope that arm heals up soon for you.