I went to a graduation ceremony on Mother’s Day. Frankly, I was surprised that a school would schedule graduation on that holiday. The woman I sat next to informed me that it is a tradition in that town. So be it. Traditions are important.
One part of their tradition was that each senior carried a rose in with them as the school band–sans seniors–played Pomp and Circumstance over and over and over. I was glad there were only thirty or so graduates, P and C not being one of my favorite melodies. A few more niceties observed, the graduates stood, found their mothers in the crowd and, as tradition dictated, delivered the beautiful red roses to their mothers.
All but one.
One young senior who’d been escorted in by an adult male, looked frantically around from his spot in the back row. He remained rooted in that spot until long after all his classmates returned to their seats from hugs and roses. At last, he bowed his head and cried as he slowly sank into his chair. From my vantage point behind him, I ached inside as his shoulders continued to shake in his grief. The woman next to me handed me a tissue and dabbed her eyes, too. His escort wrapped a comforting arm about the young man’s shoulders, but it wasn’t enough.
What secret tragedy kept that mother from her son’s graduation? I am sure I’ll never know. I am also sure that nothing I can do will erase even one tear from his heart-rending disappointment. Maybe her car wouldn’t start and she walked the distance getting there too late for the rose ceremony. Maybe someone she depended on for a ride forgot to pick her up. Maybe she was too drunk to drive. (Maybe she was focused on the story she was writing and didn’t notice time escaping her until it was too late–I hope not.)
Whatever the reason for her absence, it is not fixable now. That moment has passed and cannot be changed. I give you this tiny admonition: Let your family know you love them while they are still around to love. Don’t wait to give them flowers that you lay upon their graves.
Sorry this is a downer, but there are mothers and fathers, brothers and sisters, sons and daughters who need this tiny bit of encouragement to step past whatever pain holds them captive and allow themselves to forgive not only sins of commission but sins of omission, too.
Blessed are they who mourn for they shall be comforted.