I received the text early afternoon during my planning period last Tuesday. My friend was graduating from high school and wanted to know if I would be there. A week earlier I had told her “No.” Graduations are important. I had wanted to show up, but it began at 4:30pm and I wouldn’t finish work until 5 o’clock. Now my friend was asking again. Did she have a hunch? My schedule had cleared up last minute so that I was able to attend.
The parking lot at the High School was completely empty. I felt foolish for not checking the venue before driving over. I raced across the way to the correct address: DU’s Ritchie Center. Already late, I forked over the cash at the far parking lot and speed walked to the auditorium. Hundreds had seated themselves already. Her family was nowhere in sight. Would she even realize I had shown up? Did it matter?
Speeches, processions, regalia, tassels and caps flung high – surprisingly I arrived in time for it all. What a mess! I choked up every time a family went wild over their student cross stage. How did the students feel? Would it have mattered if the chorus were absent? At the end of the day, everyone graduates.
Radiant she was. After the ceremony her entourage crowded her for pictures: younger siblings, aunts, friends, and more. We hugged and a laughed and took more pictures. But the joy was fleeting. “Where is she? Have you seen her?” My friend questioned all and no one in particular. The sense of loss was palpable. No amount of well wishes and gifts could make up for the absence of a loved one.