June 19, 2014

Do You See What I See?

Yesterday I wrote about the many emotions I was feeling at Evie's elementary school graduation last week.  I was feeling reflective, happy and tender feelings.  But my weighted heart was crying during graduation for a different reason.  It was because of what I saw.

An observer in that gymnasium might see hundred of proud parents -- snapping videos, taking pictures.  They would have seen children lining up and climbing the stairs to shake hands with teachers and administrators as they received their diploma.  Observers would have heard student class speakers talking about their wonderful school experiences and memories.  They would hear the entire class body performing musical numbers followed by a 20 minute video presentation of the pictures taken throughout the year of students participating in class parties, field days, field trips and other fun events with captions attached to each photograph of what that child wanted to be when they grew up.

I saw something else.

In that graduating class was a sweet boy who is severely handicap.  Camouflaged in the crowd, I saw his father sitting through that assembly listening to the cheering pride of the other parents as he watched his own son laying sleepily in his complex wheelchair.  I watched the father listening to the choir of children singing as his eyes welled over with tears watching his son.  He would look down at his phone, checking text messages as he regained composure, and then his eyes would be back on his son.  His son was rolled along the front of the stage and his aide held his diploma for him.  As they wheeled back to his row they paused in front of this father who lovingly rubbed his son's leg as he continued to sleep.  The father's eyes were turning red from holding back his tears and I could no longer hold back mine.  I could feel his thoughts.  This moment stung for him and I felt the sting for him.  All of the memories, dreams and future hopes that were presented by students and administrators for this graduating class were his dreams that he had to bury many years ago and that ceremony was a reminder of that loss.

Through the entire ceremony I observed, with hundreds of other parents and family members the singing, the diplomas, the video. . . I took pictures of my daughter and proudly clapped for her and the others.  I observed all of that.  But what I saw was something else.  It was the image of a father watching his son.  It is something that still and probably always will, bring a lump to my throat when I think of it.

At the end of the ceremony as the parents gathered to take pictures of their children posing with their friends, I went up to this father and introduced myself.  I told him that of all of the hundreds of parents in that room, that I recognized that no one worked harder to get their child to that moment than did he and I offered him my sincere congratulations. The boy's Grandma was next to the dad and she was tenderly beaming. His eyes got wet again.

This journey has opened my eyes to truly see.  My peripheral vision is too clear now.   I see so much more than I used to.  While at times it hurts way too much to see the things I do with such acuity, it has also provided me the opportunity to see the most beautiful images too.  They are tender images that, despite being surrounded by dozens, even hundreds of people, I realize that I am the only one who is seeing them.

Do you see what I see?  Come sit by me for a spell.  I can see the forest through the trees and the view is too beautiful not to share.