My husband and I recently returned from a quick road trip to North Carolina to see my daughter graduate high school.  When I say quick, I mean, we left when I got off work on Thursday night, drove straight through and made our return trip on Sunday. We live in Florida. It was a long, long ride but I wouldn’t have missed her graduation for anything.

Her school is a small, rural high school. The speakers were wonderful and they all projected that sense of community and warmth that only small towns can truly embrace.  As I sat in the audience listening to the speeches and the presentations of awards, my mind conjured memories of my own high school graduation.

I remember taking a ton of pictures before the ceremony, so that I would be able to remember everyone as they were on that day. I still have them somewhere. I remember my gown was huge and my hat hurt my head. It kept tilting to one side and finally I just gave up on straightening it.  I don’t remember any of the speeches or who the guest speaker was, though I do remember our valedictorian and how much I really respected her. I remember the dress I wore and worrying that my hair would be a hot mess for pictures we would take afterwards. I remember that I didn’t care about my hair after I threw that cap up in the air. I don’t remember who I sat beside or who I hugged first.  I remember thinking that this would be the last time I saw many of my classmates. I remember vowing to “keep in touch” and pinky promising to do so.  I remember swearing that I wasn’t going to cry and almost made it until one of my friends came up bawling her eyes out. So we cried together. I remember that I was so happy that it was finally over, but I was so sad at the same time. I couldn’t wait to start the life that lay before me, but I was anxious about it as well.

It occurred to me that my daughter was most likely experiencing the same emotions right at that very moment. And I realized that my mother must have felt what I was right then, when I graduated. Funny how things work like that; the circles of life we don’t even know exist. I wonder what memories she will take with her when she is the one sitting in the audience watching her own children cross the stage.

Returning my attention back to the stage, I watched as my daughter very carefully walked up the stairs in her heels. When the class president said her name, her face lit up with a wonderful smile. That was the moment I drove over 900 miles to see.

I was a very proud mom. A mom who in her rush to get out the door, forgot her camera. Yes, I can’t believe it either; all of that and no camera! Fortunately for me, my sister brought hers and took some great pictures for us all.

The weekend flew by, but I’m grateful for the time I got to spend with my family. I even got to see a few old friends and get a brief hug. The ride was tiresome, but so very worth it.