“Mommie don’t be loud.”
Today was a huge day. Grace has been accepted to the University of North Carolina School of the Arts. I. Can’t. Even. Lauren brought the mail inside around 2:30, and we had to wait for Grace to get home from school after 8:00 before finding out what was in that envelope. Pins and needles! I actually wrote this before she got home because I just knew.
As Mommie, I have the right to tell potty training stories. Paul and I tried everything to help Grace be potty trained. Some things just take time. When Grace finally had success, I started whooping and hollering and jumping up and down because to me, this was a big deal. I remember Grace just looked at me and quietly said “Mommie don’t be loud.” She told me if I yelled like that again, she wouldn’t pee on the potty anymore.
Fast forward and tonight all I want to do is be loud. This girl didn’t want college. She wanted to complete the Cosmetology program at Career Center and graduate from high school and just cut hair. You have to remember the context of her high school career; she has struggled with cutting and Trichotillomania and depression since 8th grade, and all she wanted was to be finished with school. She was invited to take the SAT in 8th grade, and did well for a middle schooler, but she didn’t take SAT in high school. She did take the ACT, though. Then last summer, as you know, it was just too much.
Cue the miracle. It must have been maybe the second or third day Grace was in the psych ward after her attempt that our neighbor reached out to us with an idea. Jeff has contacts at the School of the Arts and suggested that Grace meet with Christal Schanes from the Wig and Makeup Department. Maybe Grace could sit in a class and talk to Christal. Maybe having something to look forward to…Maybe seeing a bigger picture…Maybe…
After she got out of the hospital and after senior year started, Grace met with Christal one day. How did it go? “It was good.” What’s Christal like? “She’s nice.” Did you enjoy meeting her? “Yeah.” Are you going back again? “Yep, she wants to make me a wig.” And inside, Mommie is jumping up and down. And quietly, Grace kept going back to see Christal and to talk to the students and watch them working. Then one day, she quietly asked me where her 8th grade SAT and ACT scores were. Whooping and hollering because there’s only one reason to want your scores.
And finally Grace texted Paul and me and quietly, without fanfare, announced she might apply to the School of the Arts. I collapsed to the floor, but pulled myself together before Grace got home. Mommie don’t be loud.
Tonight I see her future. The future she almost cut too short.
The future has a scent. If she had died, that scent would have been death. Putrid and rank. Heavy and burdened with doubts and questions and failings. But she lived, and her aroma is the sweet lingerings of promise and potential and answers and tomorrow. She wears her future like a perfume that fills the room. When I walk into her midst, I know she has safely been there even if I can’t see her.
I see now that my dreams for Grace’s future were never grand enough. I dreamed she would come to know God as a child. I wanted her to have the richness of His fellowship through her whole life, unlike me, who didn’t truly meet Him until I was an adult. She accepted Christ when she was three. Done. But she walked away from Him as a teen. “I don’t believe in God.” And all I could say was that I still believed in God for her. I safeguarded that belief until she told me how she reencountered God at an art conference. And in that moment, I understood that the precious, innocent faith of a child had been tested and found to be true. And my dreams for Grace grew.
And as a toddler playing, I dreamed that she would be a good influence on her friends. She would be the voice of reason and encouragement in a chaotic world. She has been that. She has been the good girl, and for a time, her friends knew she wouldn’t do anything crazy. And that drove Grace to lead a fragile friend into a horrible situation just so she could show she has a wild side. And Grace put Dad and me in the position of standing for truth even at the cost of losing her. But then we watched her stand and face her consequences without arguing, and we saw her do the right thing. And I understood that Grace’s character had been tested, and failed, and strengthened through adversity. And my dreams for Grace grew.
And I dreamed that she would love life. I dreamed an intoxicating vibrancy and excitement that would draw others into her light. But that light got so dim, so very dim. And I watched her wretch over a toilet trying to eject and reject the poison that earlier had seemed like such a good idea. I understood in that minute that her love for life had been tested, and love won out, and my dreams for Grace grew.
And tonight, I dream that you will be loud and obnoxious. I dream that you will be confident knowing that Dad, Lauren, Emily, and I are your loudest cheerleaders, and that nobody wants you to succeed more than we do. I dream that you will cheer loudly for yourself. But if you ever lose your voice, don’t worry. Mommie will be loud.