Time Marches On...
And eventually you realize it is marchin’ across your face. – Truvy, Steel Magnolias
The floor-length white dress. The roses. The curtsy. These are the hallmarks of a graduation ceremony of an all-girls Catholic school. And they are just as beautiful and reverent today as they were almost 25 years ago, when I stood in those shoes. Except I wasn’t wearing white Toms, like these young ones.
Tonight we are here to mark our sweet cousin’s high school graduation. I’m not sure how this happened, but she grew up in the blink of an eye. When I first laid eyes on her, she was an adorable, feisty, towheaded toddler who pulled the fire alarm at my apartment complex because she just couldn’t resist that shiny, red handle.
And now she has grown and matured into a kind, caring, responsible young lady who is ready to move on to the next phase of her life. And I can’t help but think back to how I felt on my own graduation night in May almost a quarter-of-a-century ago.
Was I nervous? Was I scared? Was I excited? I know I was all of those things and more. I recall that I was brimming with anticipation to start the next chapter. I couldn’t wait to move on.
I wish I could go back in time to that night and tell myself to slow down. Savor the moment a little longer. Don’t be so quick to run off. Linger a bit and cherish these last few days with your friends.
But I was a foolish 17-year old, eager to make a quick jump out of the gate as soon as the gun went off. Impatient to head out on my own and make a “fresh start.”
And now sitting here tonight, looking around at all these girls in their white dresses, I recognize the same look in some of their eyes, and I want to tell them to stop. Stop and be still.
Look at the girl sitting next to you, and really see her for who she is. Not who you thought she was in high school. Notice something about her you’ve never seen before, and tell her about it. How you enjoyed having her in your French class. Or how even though you weren’t BFFs, you’re better for having known her.
Because this is what it’s all about. The all-girl school thing. It creates a bond, a sisterhood, that truly lasts a lifetime. It allows those of us who may not have socialized much in high school find an unlikely friendship decades later. And those of us who were BFFs back then, and lost touch, can find our way back to each other, like not a day’s passed.
We are forever united in the mission and mantra of the school that brought us all together and sent us out into the world. With more than just a fine education. More than a diploma. With a sense of conviction, purpose and self-confidence that inspired us to take on the world.
And that we have done. Our class is full of strong, proud, successful women, whether we work outside the home or not. Moms, Not-Moms, Doctors, Lawyers, Teachers, Businesswomen. We can be proud of how far we’ve come and what we’ve accomplished.
“In times of adversity, let your conscience not waver and your morals hold true.” This was a quote from the valedictorian’s speech tonight, and I believe it’s a fitting way to close the door on high school and open the door on the world.
Because the world will try and screw with you. But if you have that seed planted firmly in your heart, the seed of love, compassion and self-respect, you will come out fine in the end.
I know I did.
Dedicated to my Bears. Can’t wait to see you next summer.