Saturday I watched as the light of my life walked across the gymnasium floor, stepping over the threshold from being "my little girl" to a young woman beginning a magnificent and wonderful journey. I watched as she took the podium as Salutatorian, speaking to her classmates with the class and grace that she always shows.
All the years of watching her grow, holding her close, guiding her, supporting her, listening and learning, culminated on a sunny afternoon in a small school gym as she smiled for the camera, received her diploma and left the building as a high school graduate. It hasn't really hit me yet, though my eyes filled with tears more than once during the ceremony.
After greetings and hugs from teachers, family and friends, we returned home for a reception in her honor. Gifts overflowed on the living room floor and the house was filled to the brim with many who love her and wish her well. We shared laughs and memories and slices of white cake as we sat around our beautiful girl and celebrated her special day. It was a lot to take in and I know we will be feeling the after effects for several days in the near future.
The next day after church, we were driving to a local restaurant for dinner.
"I feel so spoiled," my daughter said. "I have the perfect life. The perfect family, the perfect house, perfect friends and boyfriend. Everything is so good...too good to be true."
I told her that she is hardly spoiled. She probably cares less about material things than anyone else I know. It felt good to know that she sees her life as so wonderful, when of course, it isn't really 'perfect'. I told her that she is a large part of why things are so good; that a good life is hardly an accident. She has made good choices in how she lives her life and how she has handled her circumstances and relationships. Living a life that feels like a perfect fit for us and having love from wonderful people is not a spoiled life, but a blessed one. Kindness and goodness draws kindness and goodness, and though bad times come to us all, how we choose to deal with those difficulties charts our course through the rough waters back onto the calmness of the shore.
My beautiful daughter....though my heart aches at the thought of you leaving us in the fall, I know that many wonderful things await you. With your loving and lovely heart, and your gentle - yet fun - spirit, you will soar with grace through the amazing adventure ahead. And though you are one of 17 in the class of 2008, as far as I'm concerned, you are in a class all of your own.