On the eve of his high school graduation, Ben told me he had a recurring fear that his diploma would actually be the blank sheet that the principal hands students who have not completed graduation requirements, but wish to walk with their class. I assured him that if he was missing or failing something, I would know about it — but in the event, we both checked.
The diploma is real; he is a documented high school graduate. After recovering from the shock and relief, we went to lunch with a group of Ben's friends and their parents, some of whom have become friends as well. The kids talked about future plans; the adults reminisced.
The kids have been together since the sixth grade, so we shared many fond memories. It isn't easy to accept that this part of life is really over. I can say without prejudice that Ben was the cutest baby and child in the history of the universe, and the nicest adolescent as well. I miss having him around all the time; I miss kissing his baby tummy; I miss his joy in small things like baking cookies or a trip to the amusement park. I miss being his favorite companion, and having him look up to me rather than patiently teaching me, once again, how to transfer movies from the computer to the TV.
But as the reality sinks in, I'm realizing that there are a lot of things I don't miss. I'm grateful that I will never again have to change a diaper, wake up for a 3AM feeding, or attend a parent-teacher conference or Little League game. I can take evening classes without guilt, and Bill and I can go out at night without arranging for a babysitter and worrying that he is scared or lonely. And of course I am most grateful that we now have this handsome, gifted, responsible and kind young man sharing our home and our lives.
At every stage of Ben's development, I have wished I could freeze time, convinced that this was the best part and I wanted to hold onto it forever. But this really is the best part.