Endings and Beginnings

Juan and Crystel’s graduation is this week.

There are graduation parties, athletic banquets, Senior party, after grad parties, and bonfires.

I was kicked out of school the last week of 12th grade. I was banned from attending my senior party. I was unpredictable. Impressionable. Dangerous. I never attended a prom. It wasn’t because of COVID.

Juan and Crystel are experiencing life differently than I did at their age. They have more of a life, more joy, more celebration, more love.

It makes me cry.

A different life from what I had is always what I wanted for my kids.

“You have great kids,” a track coach said at their athletic banquet.  “I don’t know what they are like at home but here they are awesome. Polite. Happy.”

I cried some more.

Plaques lining both their walls say, “MVP Award, Rookie of the Year, Most Improved Award, Work Horse Award, Most Valuable Distance Runner, Most Valuable Teammate, Spotlight on Scholarship, Eagle Scout.

Jody and I have great kids. We have done a lot of things right. And, when we haven’t, we have apologized and explained why we had the reaction we did.

In middle school, Juan nudged me out of his room when we had a disagreement about his phone. I said words that I’m not proud of. Later that evening, I called a family meeting. I apologized to Juan and I told him that my reaction was because I lived with violence growing up in my house. I told him that our home would not ever be like that. We were never to touch one another in anger.

Jody and I are frequently asked, “How does it feel to be empty nesters?” 

I just shake my head.

My mother made it clear that when you graduated high school you were not to come home, again.

Wherever we are, Juan and Crystel will be.

The porch light is always on.

I always wanted to know what love looked like. I know.