June is a launchpad for dreams of all shapes. They ride on sound waves of wedding bells, school bells, ice cream truck jingles rounding the corner, and the ubiquitous applause for making the grade and moving on.
In our house, June was a month where Pride pulled up a chair and stayed for a visit. We hugged our grad, Kate, and draped her with parental gush, love spraying out over the verdant lawn. She stood in a line up of graduates, in funky shoes and a dress, white like mine once, but sculptural and smooth, not the high collared lace of my vintage.
On the podium, they read her name and accolades. We whooped and wept. It was her moment but ours too. How did we get here, 18 years slipping by in seconds?
We were the ones who “loved her up”, as author Jon Green put it in his brilliant commencement speech, delivered earlier this year to graduates of Butler University. Green called for a minute of silence to think on all those individuals who had contributed to their success, who had” loved them up” to this moment of glory.
If you liked his bestseller The Fault in our Stars as much as we did here, then the speech is highly recommended (available online).
Or read the much lauded commencement speech written by the brilliant David Foster Wallace (available online)
Both are directed at university grads but their messages hold equal value for high school grads. Living well means being conscious that the lives of others are as complex as our own. As for advice from this corner, readers of these Chronicles know I’m reluctant to give out pointers to a younger generation( read why here).
Later, a collection of classmates and parents filled our garden under a big top lit up to match the buzz below.
Party guests occasionally bring in baggage, leftover worries and stress from the day they left behind. Often, there’s work to be done to create atmosphere and erase air bubbles. Not this night-there was buoyancy at go, for here, at my garden gate, sporting wide grins and loose shoulders, were thrilled moms, dads, grandparents, extended families and newly minted, gorgeous young adults. Nothing beats a collective high five: we made it. Together, we made the trek to this neon launchpad, with the blinking sign:
Promising Futures Enter Here!
Wish balloons soared, and with them, private dreams on a June breeze. The credits at the film’s end read go with love but we left the gate wide open.
During the ceremony, I was honoured to have one of my poems read out as part of the address given by the principal.
I offer it here to graduates everywhere, especially our own loveable kid with big plans, as they empty their lockers and take a last look down the hallway, leaving nothing but echoes or perhaps a little graffiti…
Indelible ink would do it.
Pronounce my presence in this here place,
where the ivy twists
and shrouds solid bricks
in the thousands.
What if each bore a name, a date?
I was here.
I listened, wept, whispered secrets.
I found the world unfolded,
in tidy green packets.
I store them away.
They swirl in my head,
a schoolyard din.
I am full.
I am ready.
Mark my name.
Congratulations to our beloved Kate. Go with love.