This is literally the third time that I've tried to write this post... for some reason my first 2 drafts disappeared! Weird...
Anyway, Nick graduated this week from Teacher's College of Columbia University. I simply could not be more proud! He is amazing and as I sat on the South Lawn at Columbia with my boys, watching Nick in his cap and gown, I was overwhelmed with pride. What an outstanding role model for our children! I will never forget Jack running up to Nick that afternoon and saying "Congratulations Daddy, I'm so proud of you!" Gah! I get goose bumps every time I think of it!
Here's Jack and I cheering as Nick's degree was conferred! So excited!
This was a long and emotional journey. Nick balanced full-time teaching with his Master's program, parenthood and life. He applied to the program when I was pregnant with Jack. During his 1st semester, Jack was born. During semester number 3, we learned that Wells was on the way. Over his summer semester, number 4, we learned that there was no cure for my Mom's cancer. By the start of semester number 5, she was sick and it was becoming apparent that she was going to die. Nick wanted to take a break so he could have more time to help our family. No way. My Mom was Nick's biggest supporter and she would have been pissed if he'd taken a break on her account. So he continued. In the middle of that semester (his fifth) Wells was born. Then, as he handed in his final assignments of that semester, my Mom died. And now here we are, at the completion of his 6th and final semester, watching him graduate after earning near perfect grades. It was a long and emotional journey, as I said. This degree represents hard work, of course! But it also represents life's highest highs and lowest lows. It is perseverance and dedication. It is worthy of incredible pride!
On Tuesday afternoon, I sat in the Cathedral of St John the Divine alone, waiting for Nick to enter his convocation. It is an incredibly beautiful Cathedral. One that I visited with my Mom on several accounts. It's also the place where my Sweet Wells was Baptized just a month after my Mom passed. It's an emotional place for me on my best day. But as I sat there waiting for Nick to walk by in his silly coat and silly hat -- as Jack lovingly named his cap & gown -- I was overcome with sadness. As I said, my Mom was Nick's biggest fan. She was incredibly proud of him when he enrolled at TC. She watched him balance fatherhood, teaching, school and being an incredibly loving and supportive husband with awe. She adored him. And she was supposed to be here for this momentous day. It isn't fair. Her support of him rivaled my own. It made me incredibly sad. It made Nick sad too, I know. But I did not want it to overpower the joy of this incredible day. And as soon as I saw him wearing his cap and gown, the sadness was gone. It was overpowered with love, pride and joy.
It's an odd mixture of emotions. Joy, sadness, pride and emptiness, anger, resentment, awe... it's too much for one day, really. I think that I am still working through all of the complexities of it. My incredible joy and pride are not at all overshadowed by my sadness, but both are intense feelings that need to be felt. Both require my attention and consideration. And at some point I hope that I can let go of the sadness and remember this day simply with pride, but I am not there yet. It takes time.
Though I have survived a Christmas with out her, and a Mother's Day... this was harder. This was the hardest.
Nick and my Mom are similar in a lot of ways. They are the two single most important and influential people in my life. Both have a way of bringing me calm during times of stress. Both have a way of making me smile, even over the simplest of things. Both have a way of making me feel like the most important person in their life. Both fill my heart with Love. And both have overcome challenges with grace. Both have persevered. And both of them continue to make me feel extremely proud to know them. Both are incredible.
Nick, Congratulations on this most incredible accomplishment! There are so many people who are incredibly proud of this momentous feat and she is one of them. I am so proud to call you my partner and to share in this journey with you. Congratulations, my Love.