Grace’s graduation came and went, and I didn’t cry. Not one single tear on graduation day. Nothing surprises me more about that day than my lack of tears. I started crying over graduation months ago when buying back-to-school clothes, and when Paul and I started choosing pictures and text for the yearbook tribute page for Grace, and when she chose her non-traditional class ring, and when we paid senior class fees, and when planning her party, and after she showed me the shoes she bought for graduation. I cried the night before, and I packed tissues and toilet paper in my pocketbook because I expected the ugly-cry with tears and snot.
I’m convinced we had the best seats in the coliseum. Front row facing the students as they walked across the stage to get their diplomas and walk down the stairs off the stage. I could see the faces of all the graduates. They were nervous, relieved, excited, hungry, maybe stoned (it happens).
And I cheered for all the kids I knew. But I couldn’t wait to see Grace. And there she was. Black gown, black mortar-board hat, teal tassel. She looked like everybody else, but I’d recognize that red wig and those black platform, high heel, blinged out shoes anywhere. That’s my Gorgeous. Head to toe. And it was pride and gratitude and an awful lot of thank goodness high school is finally over!
Good for you if high school was the time of your life, but please remember that for some, it’s something to endure. I have incredible hope for Lauren’s and Emily’s high school years. But with mental illness, depression, cutting, Trichotillomania, suicide attempt, loneliness, and bullying, no, this was not the time of Grace’s life. I refuse to accept that Grace has peaked at 18. Wouldn’t that be cruel. Thank goodness high school is finally over. I wasn’t certain until it happened that she was actually going to attend the graduation ceremony. And it would have been perfectly fine with me if she hadn’t gone, except it would have been a damn shame to waste those black platform, high heel, blinged out shoes.
But I don’t feel bad about not crying at Grace’s graduation. Looking back, I can’t for the life of me think of a single reason I would have cried. Not me. Not over Grace. Not over graduation. I’ve cried enough already. I’ll cry again. But not on that day.
My tears for Grace have already been bittered with blood and midnight IV fluids and Mothers Day weekend rabies shot and medications. And sweetened with Gerber peach baby food and baptism sprinkling and finger paints and creek water and Myrtle Beach waves and frappuchinos and water balloons. And what I’ve realized is that with Grace, there will always be more sweet, and that it’s an honor to taste every bitter drop as it makes the sweet so much more delicious.
As Grace’s mom, I’ve absolutely been all over the place emotionally. But the place I always take off and I always land, is loving Grace. Period. Now, there’s everything else in between. Pride. Disappointment. Excitement. Terror. Appreciation. Judgment. Amazement. Disorientation. Fatigue. Tickled pink.
All the feels.
There’s not many ways I haven’t let her down. And there’s nothing I wouldn’t do to save her life. She’s an answer to specific prayer. She has an amazing history and an unimaginable future. And I’m part of her present every singe day. She has a calling on her life; her steps are ordered by God. She will minister through her hands and her artistic eye and her compassion.
She will attend the North Carolina School of the Arts in the Design and Production Conservatory under the Wig and Makeup Design Program. Why would this chick with Trich want to study and specialize in hair? Because Grace knows better than any of us how hair makes us FEEL. My Gorgeous understands that it’s all the feels.
All the feels.