Graduation is not just an end

To graduate means to move on, to be done with the past, to be ready to move forward with a new life and new expectations. In the Tarot cards, it may be represented by the Death card because it means the end of something familiar.

Many of my students graduated Friday in a quick but elaborate ceremony complete with speeches about success and the promise of the future. Hugs and kisses and tears and relief overflowed the gym on the University of Miami campus. I was a proud momma and yet, I was sad. I may never see many of these students who shared one of my most emotional school years.

After I lost sight of my students in the crowd of friends and families, I felt lost. It was a momentary loss, I know. I feel it every year when the students step out of the familiar world of their 7:20 to 2:20 existence of mid-morning lunches and hourly bells. I am no longer the “mother” they run to when their own mothers are missing or “don’t understand” their reality. I’ve been at this long enough to see students who hated their parents in High School praise them when those same people they complained about became their best friends. I’ve sadly seen some mourn when a parent passes from this world unexpectedly.

I’ve attended funerals and births for these students who continue to welcome me into their worlds after graduation, and I will attend the reunions to which I’m invited because, no matter the years, these kids are still a part of me.

This death of the comfortable is exciting. Many of them will leave home to attend college where they will room with old friends or make many new ones. They will take classes where the work might drown them or where it might seem easy because it’s a subject they love. Many others may start a new life of bills and responsibilities and jobs with bosses who are not nearly as forgiving as high school teachers.

I wish them all much love and luck, and, as I write this on my back patio, a butterfly fluttered up to my face. Oh, yeah. Rebirth. Regeneration.

The Death card does not necessarily represent sadness. It also means a new beginning. Like the caterpillar, I remind my students that this point in their life is a great time to be reborn, to decide who they want to be and to allow that part of themselves to spread its wings and fly.

To all, I remind them, it’s really all just a matter of what you do with the news. I plan to take my own advice.

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