It was a really nice night. The best part? My family was there.
Little things I want to remember:
-walking alone toward the Convention Center, entering the elevator, cap and gown in hand. Two friendly women congratulated me. “What are you graduating as?!” – “An R.N.” – “Good for you! Remember our faces if we’re ever sick, okay? What a great profession.” Smiling, walking out of the elevator, ready to burst into tears. R.N. Finally.
-looking for other nursing students in their white gowns. Smiling, talking about the future, lining up alphabetically. Tallest and shortest nursing students in consecutive line. (Note: I’m not the former.) Selfishly glad because it will make it easy for my family to find me.
-seeing friends who have walked similar journeys. A knowing little smile.
-the sound of the band as we lined up to enter the ballroom. Choking up hearing those first few notes.
-walking in and looking for my family. Seeing those three little blond heads and the rest of my family standing behind them. Huge smiles on their faces. Seeing Paul’s big, big grin, his blue eyes happy, big hand waving at me. My Mom’s choked-up smile and her camera flashing. The look on my Dad’s face, his hand high. All 4 of my sisters lined up rooting for me. Tears starting. I love them.
-enjoying the words spoken, the graduates ranging in age from 19-84. Listening to some surprisingly good and succinct speeches. Savoring the moment.
-standing to wait in line for the diploma, looking for my family again. Thinking of what it took to get here. Praying a quiet prayer of thankfulness. Feeling so happy, so full. Paul with the camera, flowers in hand, craning his neck to see. Funny what crosses your mind in short spurts at a time like that. Thinking of best-laid plans and obstacles. 2011 changing to 2012. Thinking of Paul’s support, all the little things that matter. Ironed scrubs, meals, notes, texts, phone calls. His longstanding patience, endurance. Knowing I wouldn’t be standing there if it weren’t for him. Watching Dad walk over to the side to see where I would walk past. Giving him a look, him returning it. Fathers and daughters. Thinking of what he’s told me over the past few years, of words fitly spoken. Feeling the weight of what they mean right then. Remembering the harder things are worth it. Mom peeking over someone in front of her, teary smile on her face. Thinking of her support and phone calls, her willingness to take sick grand kids so I wouldn’t miss school, her patience with my sometimes teary phone calls, her genuine interest in my clinical days. Thinking of our walk the other day. My sisters and their support. Seeing Kara up front with camera at the ready. Colleen waving at me. Katie with a huge smile. Seeing Minna here, in Connecticut. Seeing in their eyes that they love me. I am so lucky to have my sisters. So happy they came. Noticing Nora on her tippy toes. Joel with his iPod camera, Connor looking up at me with those smiling eyes. Those are my kids! Huge grin.
-hearing them call my name. Hearing my family. Goosebumps. Shaking hands, holding the diploma. Getting stopped by Joan, special teacher who is retiring. Big hug.
-looking out at all the instructors in their gowns, searching for Cathy, a mentor and adviser. Catch her attention. She gives a big smile. Big wave. Thumbs up. Happy for that little moment.
-walking out, finding Paul. Hugs. Flowers. Pictures. Tears. Thank yous. I love you. Mom and Dad. 5 sisters. My little family, seeing all three of the kids. Joel’s big smile, Connor’s head leaning on my arm, Nora’s tears. So, so happy. So glad I went, after all. So thankful for my faith, for family, for friends, for perseverance. So glad I did this hard thing, by the help of so many.
“All life lessons are not learned at college,’ she thought. Life teaches them everywhere.”
- L.M. Montgomery, from Anne of the Island