And so this week’s moment of happiness despite the news.
Last night, I felt like a curmudgeon. I felt grumpy. Jaded. Not just a skeptic, but a super-duper skeptic. Negative Woman! Able to bring people down in five seconds flat!
I haven’t felt like that since partway through writing the year of Today’s Moment Of Happiness. I’ve now finished the first year of This Week’s Moment, and I’m into the second. While I would never describe myself as a unicorn and rainbows person, I did believe that my overall outlook had changed, pretty much thanks to The Moments.
Last night, that all seemed to fly out the proverbial window. Except the window was closed and it smacked against it and created a horrific splatter that would never be cleaned up, because I was so skeptical, donchaknow. I was Negative Woman.
I was at my daughter Olivia’s Senior Send-Away. I’ve never been to one of these before, and I’m not really sure of the purpose, since most of the senior class wasn’t there, and neither were the faculty. It’s final exam week, after all. But the orchestra played and the chorus sang. An English teacher gave a little speech. There was a video of the teachers, giving last-minute advice to the graduating class.
I heard things like, “Live what you love! Follow your dreams! Be whoever it is you want to be! Choose your life and follow it!” and on and on until the room was full of dancing unicorns and sparkling rainbows.
Except for the black cloud over me. I sat there, my arms crossed, and thought continually, like a mantra, Whatta crock!
Live what you love, I thought, and then try to get health insurance.
Follow your dream and then try to pay your taxes.
Be whoever it is you want to be, and then find out you’re not valued by what you do, but by how much money you make.
Choose your life and follow it and find the inevitable dead end.
Boy, was I ever in a mood. And when I thought of my daughter going out into this black cloud world, where there are no unicorns and rainbows only last for minutes, and I couldn’t do anything to protect her, well, there were tears.
After the orchestra performed, the kids came out and sat in the audience. Olivia sat right in front of me, so she wouldn’t have to crawl over me, since I had an aisle seat. At one point, one of the speakers said that the kids should look around them, see the people who love and support them and always, always will, especially their moms and dads, and that they should reach out and grab their hands and hold them tight.
Olivia didn’t turn. But she stuck her hand straight up in the air and then bent her arm at the elbow so that I could reach out and grab her. We both held on tight.
“These are the people who will always believe in you,” the speaker said.
Always. Always. I immediately thought of Olivia’s preschool teacher. The day Olivia started kindergarten, I stopped in the preschool room and told the teacher all went well. “We believe Olivia will grow up and have a normal life,” I said. “A great life. We believe she will go to college. She will be who she wants to be. And she will do it well.”
Be whoever it is you want to be, the teachers said. Follow your dream. Live what you love. Choose your life.
“We believe,” I said to this preschool teacher.
She hugged me and patted my back and said, “Well, we can always dream.”
Follow your dream.
Look at my daughter now. Look at what she’s done. And just imagine what she will do. We will always, always believe.
Earlier this week, my daughter admitted she was a little bit scared of college. She mentioned it casually, on the drive home from school.
I didn’t hesitate. “It’s okay to be scared,” I said. “Everyone is. But you are going to be great. Just look at you. And you are going to have the absolute best time.”
I wanted to say, with all my heart, that this girl is the brightest star in my sky. But I thought that would sound too much like a Hallmark card. Sometimes Hallmark cards are just the exact right thing.
By the time I got home last night, the black cloud was no longer over me. If I had to listen to those speeches all over again – and I probably will, on Saturday, when she graduates – I would still roll my eyes and think, Whatta crock.
But then I would look at my daughter. And all I would feel is hope. Look at her.
And yes, that helps. Despite. Anyway.