Friday, June 15, 2007

June 13, 2007 - Cap and Gown

This evening, Ania graduates from Point Pleasant Beach High School. Despite a questionable weather forecast, the school administration decides to proceed with the plan to hold the ceremony outdoors, on the school's football field. It's an unseasonably chilly night, with ominous gray clouds threatening a damp conclusion to the festivities – which does, in fact, happen, halfway through the reading of the graduates' names, as a misty rain begins to fall.

Not many spectators get up and leave, though. This is a small high school, in a small town. There are only about a hundred graduates, and most of these kids have been together through four years, if not longer. In a community like this, folks stay and wait for other folks' kids to have their moment of glory, even if it means a little rain in the face.

In his address, Robert, the salutatorian, mentions something about nursery-school classes at The Learning Center (a little preschool run by the Central United Methodist Church). My memory flashes back to four-year-old versions of Ania and Robert, as well as Kevin, the valedictorian, shyly arriving for preschool classes. In a town like this, at a moment like this, there's a precious continuity to celebrate – one that's not so common in other, more mobile, parts of our society.

As I look across the field at our little girl, now a soon-to-be college woman, sitting there in her white cap and gown, I marvel at how quickly the years have flown. I feel glad we haven't pursued opportunities we've had, over those years, to move to another church. Roots and wings – that's what they say parents are supposed to give their children. Well, wing-spreading time is coming soon enough for this lovely young woman, as she heads off to Chapman University, in Orange, California, in a couple of months. Tonight, though, is an unabashed celebration of roots.

For me, this milestone celebration is something to hold onto, in an uncertain time. Not knowing how the biopsy's going to turn out, it's hard for me to plan the next few months, let alone the upcoming years. Will I, in fact, be able to fly out with Claire and Ania to California in mid-August, for Chapman's "family orientation," as we've planned – or will I have to give it a bye, because I'll be receiving some form of treatment? Cancer's slow-motion diagnostic process plays havoc with any sort of planning.

Tonight, I push these thoughts out of my mind. Yes, I'll cheerfully look back over all the wonderful years Ania's had in the Point Beach schools. Claire and I have managed to give that to her, and that's something to be proud of. Tonight is a night of certainties: a diploma earned, post-ceremony photos to snap, damp hugs from classmates. Tomorrow is, as always, a cipher. Joy may be harvested only from today.


Rob Pollock said...

Hi Carl,
I found your blog through the cancer ring. Very inspiring. I'm a United Church Pastor (Canada) and a survivor of colon cancer (currently on chemo). Congrats on your daughter's graduation.
Enjoy your Father's Day weekend.
Peace and Blessing...
"Yesterday I decided to go to the office. I got as far as the bedroom door. Chemo strikes." Peter Jennings

"A Cancer Journal"

Vicky said...

Congratulations to your beautiful daughter and to both you and your wife as well, Carl!

My husband and I have a daughter graduating next Friday night (Baccalaureate was last night)and we share the same concerns and questions your family are facing.

I've been rereading through some of Ruth Bell Graham's books of poetry the last two days and read this one again this morning:

I lay my "whys"
before Your cross
in worship kneeling,
my mind too numb
for thought,
my heart beyond
all feeling;
and worshiping,
realize that I
in knowing You
don't need a "why".

Ruth Graham

May He extend His perfect peace to all!

Carlos ("Carl") said...

Thanks for the good word, Rob. I visited your blog, and added it as a link on mine. I'll check out what you're writing, from time to time, as I hope you will for my blog.

Carlos ("Carl") said...

Thanks for the Ruth Bell Graham poem, Vicky. Very timely, in light of recent news stories - and a pretty good perspective on what a believer goes through, in dealing with those tough "why" questions.

kay said...

Congratulations! What a wonderful Father's Day gift!

Alicia Clark said...

WOW! That's fabulous that your daughter graduated from Point Pleasant Beach High School
Nice Post
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