Today, according to Facebook and Instagram, my daughter graduated elementary school. Or she would have if she was in Nashville. She would have walked across a stage in front of her peers, been handed a piece of paper and she would have gotten to celebrate with her friends. Friends that she has been with for 5 years. It would have been the most significant moment in her albeit short academic career. But she is not there. And when she arrives back in Nashville, she will be walking the halls of a new school.
So for a little while, I felt sorry for Emma. Sorry that she didn’t get to experience the fun of the weeks prior to today and sorry that she didn’t get the chance to close this chapter in person. Adults are all about closure. With each beautiful Facebook post picturing her sweet classmates celebrating with their families, their faces glowing with happiness and pride, I felt a lump in my throat. She of course realised that when she left her elementary school in January, that she would not be back. And she was fine with it. A little sad but fine with it. She didn’t picture the 4th grade graduation ceremony or the parties at friends houses. I did. I knew when planning this adventure that she would pay the ‘highest price’ because she would miss out on the last term of her 4th grade year. And in my sometimes rational mind, I also realised that she would stand to gain the most from our time here in New Zealand. I don’t believe you can have it all. Not at the same time.
This past week, my Dad came to stay with us for 5 days. He watched his grandson play rugby on the same University campus that he attended as a young man. He listened to his youngest grandchild read and he asked my oldest lots of questions about life and school. And before we knew it, the time had come to take him to the airport. 5 days that flew by in a flash. 5 days that gave me memories of my Dad with my kids that I will treasure forever.
When I came home from dropping my Dad at the airport, I found these flowers on my doorstep. My husband had anticipated that I would be focusing on saying goodbye, and not what was gained (memories to last a lifetime). So he did the only thing he could from the other side of the world, he sent me some beautiful flowers and a sweet note that made me smile and feel very, very loved.
I know that when Emma looks back on her time spent in New Zealand, she won’t focus on the moments lost. Rather, I know that she will focus on what was gained. Because as her Mum who has watched her navigate this move from the sidelines, she has gained so much. We all have. For now, I won’t mention to Emma that she would be done with school if she was still in Nashville. I won’t mention that she would be filling her tomorrow’s with days at the pool and at friends houses instead of welcoming winter and facing 6 more weeks of school…
But between you and me, congratulations Emma. I tip my hat to you, graduate.