Oxford Dictionary gives two definitions for the word “commencement”. The second, North American in etymology, is a ceremony in which diplomas are conferred upon graduates. The former and more common is a beginning or new start. I will confess I had only ever really thought about commencement as the lesser used version, but after doing a little research, I clearly see how much I had previously missed. My vision myopic, other than my own degrees and diplomas, I have generally avoided attending graduation ceremonies, because I have always seen them as sad endings.
A few weeks ago, my heart was twisted and torn as the day of the Boy Wonder’s high school graduation finally approached. I tried so terribly hard not to let the feelings of being cheated out of Reed’s graduation cloud my excitement for Sawyer. Tried could definitely be loosely applied here, because eventually my broken heart blurted those words out loud. The gall-like taste of bitterness was choked down because I wanted the day to be amazing for Sawyer while the scab was still fresh from being treated like second-class citizens two years previous.
For me, it is often in the writing my fears or hurts that cause them to diminish. The giants are slayed. My confidence begins to bolster, as I remember that God’s light shines brightest in the darkest of places.
So it was on commencement day. I fretted about my feelings of loss, but once spoken aloud, I was ready as much as I could be. I did come fully supplied to the ceremony with plenty of tissues though, just in case. The tears did fall. At first they were tears of sadness, the end had come. (Remember I hate good-byes, but haven’t perfected the art of just slipping away quietly like my sweetie’s uncle used to do.) There were tears of laughter as I saw the superhero bedazzled mortar board atop his head. That’s my boy! There were tears of joy because we were surrounded by every one of Sawyer’s aunties, uncles, grandmothers and grandfathers (including the honorary ones), godmothers and godfather, and even his former nanny and her family. Even the few who couldn’t be there watched via the internet. Each one of those precious people had cheered him on through the darkest nights and hardest moments. For this boy-soon-to-be-man, these people (our people) had prayed.
We all basked in the miracle of the young man who was in front of us. The Boy Wonder who defied all the odds to not just persevere but to become a shining example of resilience, faith, and determination was supported by amazing love that evening. All those prayers were for him to live and hopefully to prosper (and no that wasn’t a Trekkie shout out), but God had so much more planned. . . to give him a hope and a future. God-sized dreams really do come true as he earned the distinction of being valedictorian.
As he spoke to the audience, tears of pride for all he had overcome to achieve the goal he set in the eighth grade fell down my cheeks. Despite all the surgeries and days of missing school, he never wavered in his commitment to coming out on top . . . God-sized dreams, for sure.
Sitting next to one of my best girlfriends whose son also happened to be graduating that nigh, we both shed bittersweet tears. Our boys were leaving, but both grew to be amazing young men. Both a part of the day that changed our county forever. Tears welling up, we held hands. Then, it hit me. Yes, my son was growing up and leaving. No matter which way you look at that, it would be heart wrenching to have another son gone from our home. My revelation came from the true meaning of commencement, this was a new beginning. The boy who had endured so much came out on top, but more importantly along the way touched the lives of many. In the next steps of his journey, I can only imagine what God has in store for him.