I actually wrote this three years ago, and for reasons I cannot at all understand, I felt compelled to re-post it today, here and now. It was the third part of a story that has no real end.
A TALE OF TWO SISTERS: GRADUATION
Once, when the world was young, it trickled by, stopping here and there. It invited you to join in, or, at the very least, on a good day, it let you watch. Now it flies by, on fire, afraid it if slows down it will crash and burn.
If you have kids you know exactly what I’m talking about. If you have children you have learned in the worst way that time is the one thing you can never get back.
Grace and Lauren are both graduating high school in a couple of days. Two different high schools and two different lives. Yes, they find each other here and there, but life does not help. It did not give them the same map. Life likes diversity. It likes growth and change. It keeps people apart easier than it brings them together.
And then there are sisters.
Gracie is on her second job now. She can’t move forward fast enough in her world. She has her driver’s license and her car. She is looking forward to graduation. She excelled in school, went to state competition in orchestra, and uses her own money to pay for her phone, car insurance, clothes, and even her prom dress. A few months ago I picked her up from somewhere and we stopped to eat. I was about to pay for our lunch when she said, “I got this”. She paid with her own hard earned money. I still can’t get over that.
Lauren has “work block” at school which lets you out early for work as a senior. A couple of weeks into it I asked her why she wasn’t trying to find work and she said, “Oh, they were serious about that?” She also does well in school, but I don’t think she will find a job until life absolutely positively makes her do it. The closest thing she as ever come to buying me lunch was a leftover sandwich she let me have, which I later found out was not even hers, but was stolen from a friend during her lunch period. I have no idea to this day who that sandwich belonged to, but it was good.
I paid for Lauren to take a driver’s education course which she completed. On the last day of the course she told me she decided driving was just “not for me”. I found out later that walking wasn’t for her either so I have been regulated to picking her up everyday early from school for “work block” and a job that does not exist.
They are both adults. Since I last wrote about them they have both grown into wonderful young ladies capable of so many wonderful things. I am at awe every time I see them and I still wonder how I got so lucky.
But as much as they are grown, they are still kids. They both still take more selfies than even Kim Kardashian. They cannot get in the passenger seat of a car without taking a picture of themselves. It’s just not possible. This happens even before the seat belt goes on. I told Lauren once, “You know that phone in your hand has more computing power than the first ten Apollo Missions to space and all you can do is take a damn picture of yourself?”. She looked at me and said, “Selfies in space! I’m gonna do that some day!”. Ugh. She makes my head hurt sometimes.
Grace is still a big baby too. But because she feels like such a grown up I often hear about any problems from Lauren. Lauren loves to walk into the room non-nonchalantly and say stuff like, “Have you talked to your daughter today?” Me, “Nope, why?”. Her, ” I don’t know call her and ask her, but it rhymes with STD.” I, of course, rush to call Grace and whatever the problem was has nothing to do with anything remotely sounding like or associated to STD. It’s usually something like getting into an argument with her mom or one of her brothers. Or some dumb boy being a jerk. Never anything real serious, and never what Lauren says it is. I once asked her “Do you know where you sister is?”. She quickly responds, “I don’t know. Is Planned Parenthood open on Sundays?”. She can be such a jerk sometimes. ( I checked, it wasn’t open)
Lauren is always quick to point out that she is “the good daughter”. She says this because she does not date or go out with friends like Grace does. She thinks this somehow she did me a favor by doing this (she did). The truth is that Lauren simply does not like dating or going out. She doesn’t like people. They irritate her. She can’t stand them for any long period of time. That is just how she is.
Grace loves people. She enjoys groups and interacting. She has had a boyfriend or two since the last time I wrote about them. I really have only heard one name thrown around that went under the title of “boyfriend” but nowadays who can tell? All I know is that the kid made her cry just shy of enough times that would have required the use of one of the emergency pre-dug shallow graves I maintain for just such an occasion. And by “just shy of enough times ” to require the use of a shallow grave I meant just once. I don’t believe in second chances when it comes to my daughters.
Life is about to get very real for both of them. It’s about to ask more of them than it ever has before. I wish I could do it all for them. I wish I could take it all in and filter out the bad stuff that is coming too. But I can’t. No one can. Nor, probably, should they. I know they are both strong enough to get through anything life can throw at them. But that doesn’t mean I can stand by and just watch as it does. I have never been a sideline kind of person when people are in trouble. I know when people need a little nudge and I know when they need to be shoved over a cliff. I plan to be around for either of those.
Yes, I miss the babies they once were. Yes, I always will. But life goes in just one direction and that is forward. So forward we go.
I know my girls will be fine. They have both been through enough life to get them through the rest of it. They have momentum now. There is no stopping them. I am anxious to see what they become. I am anxious to see what the world offers them, and what they have to offer. I hope they remember that they always have each other, and me.
To my girls upon their graduation I offer these weak words:
I have loved you both since you opened your eyes and I will love you until the day I close mine. I could live a thousand lifetimes and not come to the right words to express what you both are to me. Those word don’t yet exist, I think. But as you grow older I promise to keep looking for those words as if they are out there somewhere. That is a good quest.
I promise to still keep you safe. To find you if you get lost. To lead you out into the light when you find yourself in the shadows. To help you when you ask. To let you do it by yourself when you have to.
Though life did not give you two the same map to guide you, I hope it gave you the same star by which to adjust your course when you feel lost. I think, or at least I hope, I have been that star. Of all the jobs I have had, I hope I have done that one right.
And if you are lucky, someday you both will find what you have given me.
I live for that day.