Her school always puts on a wonderful ceremony for the graduating class, which is never more than 25, in this case there were only 16. All 16 were dressed up and fidgety. It is a big deal.
My older three girls graduated from this school as well and each ceremony was truly memorable. I was proud of each of my three older daughters as they stood and gave a 3 minute speech they wrote and memorized, walked forward to receive a diploma - and I was equally proud of Grace as she did the same. But there was something different in this one. This was my last. My baby, wearing a new dress that didn't have a hint of "little girl" in its design, high heeled shoes and shaved legs, french tip manicure, dangling earrings in her newly pierced ears, a hair style for older girls, and her first make-up in public, walked up to the podium and out of grammar school and after nearly 20 straight years of having a child in elementary school, I walk out with her. So while this day was all about her, it was a marker for me as well.
Grace is particularly emotional. She cries on the last day of school every year (including preschool!) weeping at the passing of age so I knew she would be a mess this go around. I carefully instructed her on the way to dab dripping eyes that are made up with mascara (under the lashes to absorb moisture and not smear black under the eyes - lest we look like Bette Davis in "Whatever Happened to Baby Jane"...) and watched as she sat on the stage with her classmates becoming an expert on tear catching.
After all the graduates had made their speeches and received their diplomas we moved to the reception room where we all witnessed all seven girls in the class sporting red, swollen eyes as they hugged and gathered and sobbed and let me tell you, the moms were right behind them. My throat was tight and and my nostrils flared as I tried to squelch what could have become big gobby sobs had I not been well versed in stifling such things. I was proud of my daughter. She looked beautiful. It was a big day for her. But it was a big day for me too. Both Amanda and Jennifer were in attendance and when Amanda reminded me that she had graduated from this school 10 years ago, I was instantly in that day, remembering what she wore, how she stood with her friends and received an award. The following year, both Christine and Jennifer did the same - with their hair piled high on their heads - all grown up and by this time, Grace had started preschool there. And while I was equally proud of all of them, in the back of my mind was that I had another 8 years at this school and I felt I would never be done.
But this day, I looked around the walls, looked at the staff, the building in the same way Amanda, Christine and Jennifer did years ago. The way Grace was looking at it now. There is sadness in the joy. My youngest is leaving that environment but so am I. And we shall never pass this way again.
So I am catching tears with kleenex carefully placed under the lashes.