Would you believe that my first entry here on ye olde blog was written when my oldest was six years old, tiny and sassy and chirpy and endlessly chatty, and on Saturday that little bird of a girl graduated from college, tall and lovely and grown and measured and oh, lord (this is no time for humility, right?), loaded down with cords and medals and other symbols of how she rocked the last three and a half years like the utter boss she is?
Would you believe that for years I prayed every day, multiple times a day, that she would just make it through one more day, please, God, I don’t know if I even believe in you but IF YOU EXIST or if there is some sort of overarching protective force in the universe, whatever it is or you are, please, please please please, just keep her safe and whole for one more day so we can get closer to figuring out what she needs and how to help her?
Would you believe that Saturday felt like a dream and a miracle, and that watching her friends and her professors swarm around her with the same pride and exhilaration Otto and I were feeling made it somehow both more and less real, and that for the first time in a very long time, I believed down to my bones that she really is going to be okay—better than okay, even—and that while I will always worry, it’s a Normal Worry or no longer a Panicked Dread Worry?
Would you believe that we left nice and early that morning because Chickadee doesn’t own an iron and when I suggested she try to borrow one she said, “But really I would like you to iron my robe because I know you’ll do it better than I can” and I didn’t even bother to argue with her because why not, I don’t mind ironing her robe? Would you believe that we almost ended up being late because some asshole hit a dog and left it in the middle of the road and we had to stop, HOW DO YOU NOT STOP, and I spent the first part of graduation morning sinking my platform heels in the mud of a ditch petting and begging a sweet little bloodied dog to please be okay while we called 911 and his owner and waited for help? (Would you believe that after such a horrible start to the day, not only was graduation and everything else therein perfection, but the owner let us know that the pup was going to be okay and I nearly cried with relief?)
Would you believe that a friend of Chickadee’s who graduated in May came back for graduation, bringing her boyfriend, and they stayed at Chickie’s apartment and when we arrived and I had ironed the robe and asked if anyone else needed anything ironed, it turned out that the boyfriend had apparently pulled his nice shirt, pants, and blazer out from under the bed? Would you believe I happily ironed his clothes, delighted to be a voyeur to the banter between all three of the young adults vying for space in Chickadee’s bathroom, plus her roommate and HER boyfriend getting ready as well? Would you believe that when this young man went to put his shirt on, the sleeve ripped, and the next thing I knew, Chickadee was sitting in the living room with her sewing kit, sewing it up for him? Would you believe there was also a chihuahua running around (belonging to the roommate’s family) and then HER whole family arriving and one little apartment was overflowing with people and it still didn’t feel nearly as full as my heart?
Would you believe that under her robe my daughter wore a skirt and a bodysuit with an attached cape of vibrant rainbow wings and several times commented that she couldn’t believe I “let her” wear that to graduation? Would you believe she seemed confused every damn time I responded that she’s a grown adult, she can wear what she likes, and that I could think of no better metaphor for this day than for her to be dressed like everyone else but actually be a beautiful rainbow butterfly under her robe? Would you believe that of all the zillions of pictures Otto took that day, my favorite ones are where her “wings” are fully spread and her matching rainbow-painted mortarboard is slanted just so, and she looks like she is on the verge of taking flight?
Would you believe that I wore a new dress with a colorful bird print on it because I loved it the second I saw it and DIDN’T EVEN REALIZE until partway through the day that I was wearing, you know, a dress with a bird print to Chickadee’s graduation, and then at one point the friend’s boyfriend—this darling young man who had just met me that day—said, “Don’t… don’t take this the wrong way because I mean it nicely, but in that dress you sort of remind me of Mrs. Frizzle” and he clearly regretted saying it the second he’d finished but I laughed and laughed and felt like that was the best thing anyone has ever said to me?
Would you believe I told Chickadee we were going to holler for her and she said, “Please do not” and then they called her name and her visiting friend and I screamed until we were hoarse, anyway?
Would you believe there was a woman with a perfect cherub of a giggling pudgy baby sitting right behind me, and I kept turning around to make the baby grin, and I resisted saying to her mother that my daughter was also a giggling pudgy baby just the day before, so don’t blink, Mama, because it happens so much faster than you can possibly know?
Would you believe that other families gave their graduates trips to Europe and cars and lord knows what else as extravagant graduation gifts, but I gave Chickadee a pair of tie-dyed rainbow Dr. Martens because, after all, they go perfectly with the rainbow wings? Would you believe I dared to buy those Docs when she was a sophomore, when it occurred to me that she really probably was going to love them as a future graduation gift, and at the time I realized it was the first future-minded thing I’d done for her in a good long while?
Would you believe Otto is rightthisminute driving a U-Haul of her belongings back home from Tinytown, and she is apprehensive about her temporary move home, but I am delighted, because I know it won’t be for very long, and I want to soak in all I can with her before she’s off on her next big adventure?
Believe it, because it’s all true.