There’s a young woman graduating from High School tonight.
There are many young women graduating, actually, and many young men as well. But there’s this one that I’m particularly fond of.
Tonight she’ll be just one more of hundreds of capped and gowned seniors starting a new chapter of life. She’ll be just one face in the crowd, for most of the crowd.
For me, she will be it. The only one. The singular high school graduate.
I was one of the very first people to see her face, to gaze into her eyes.
I held her in one arm with no trouble at all.
I saw the very first smile she ever smiled.
I wiped her chin, changed her diaper, put band-aids on her knees.
I carried her on my shoulders. I can still feel her weight there, her chin resting on my head.
I saw her crawl, then walk, then dance.
I took her to the art museum on “d” days. We got in trouble once because I was carrying her on my shoulders and that made the guard nervous, like I was going to drop her into a work of art.
I read chapter books to her at bedtime.
I ran beside her bicycle as she figured out how to balance, watched her pedal off on her own.
I heard her say, “If there are kids who need help … and we can help them … then we probably should,” and it changed my life.
I saw her step onto a stage and become someone else. Golde, Leisl, Cinderella, Patsy. Scrub. Miss. She sparkles on stage, pure brilliance.
I tried to teach her how to play piano, with moderate success.
I accompanied her as she sang.
I told her, every morning, “Be a peacemaker today!”
I asked her, every night, “Who’s my girl?”
I have seen her angry and I have yelled at her, too.
I have told her the most hilarious jokes in history.
I watched her sing, in her high school choir, and saw an artist at work.
I have watched her try to keep things calm, no drama, relaxed. And I know how it hurts her when that doesn’t work.
I know that she gets really anxious about trying new things, but she tries them anyway because she is so incredibly brave. And strong. And smart.
And after tonight, she’s going to be trying a really, really big new thing. It’s newer and bigger than anything she’s tried so far. And she is going to be amazing.
Life happens in seasons. Old seasons fade; new seasons emerge. “Wind’s in the east, there’s a mist coming in, like something is brewin, about to begin.” We do well to notice the transition times, to mark them, to absorb every moment.
So there’s a young woman graduating from High School tonight. She’s my girl. She is Corneille Marie Bryan, and she is ready for what’s next.