My heart is happy and hurting. My niece has graduated from Georgia Southern. It is a wonderful accomplishment, and the family came together to celebrate. Many of us traveled far and the time we had was short. There was a tension among us. With smiles on our faces, we fought over time with her, hugs and gifts. It is bittersweet to watch a child grow, overcome many challenges, form special friendships, and now keep going into a world of more joys and barriers to overcome.
We were all there to congratulate her but despite family disputes, it was also a chance to see each other. it is rare for our family to be in the same town at the same time. Our challenge was to all attend the graduation events but also spend some time with each other. Throughout the weekend I found myself constantly wanting to check on people. Were they OK? Are they having a good time? What can I do to help? This created stress for me and probably them, too! My mind begins to “spin out” and I create situations that may not even happen.
Then there are just the normal setbacks that can happen during any event. My sister had planned a party and did an excellent job considering she lives in Dallas and the venue would be at a farmhouse rented 1,000 miles away. The day of the party the tables and chairs are delivered, party decorations are being frantically put up, and the DJ canceled. A Walmart run takes place for a speaker and other last-minute items. This is all happening the morning I arrive after a six-hour drive! It all was OK and honestly, the preparation was a lot of fun. All the kids, cousins and college students joined in and helped out. The evening party turned out wonderful. Now we all just needed to relax and look forward to the remaining events.
The weekend of celebration also reminded me to let go of expectations. It reminds me of the saying “you can bring a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink.” We can decorate, play music, provide food and place to celebrate, but it is not our responsibility for everyone to have a a spectacular time. Over the weekend, I found myself saying to different people, “You can’t pick your family, but we love each other anyway!”
Every family has conflict, and every family has unconditional love. Family teaches us that we are not alone, even though sometimes we feel alone. Other times we really want to be alone and can’t! Siblings will argue and parents will bicker. Family teaches us to have disagreements but move through it and accept each other anyway. That is just part of life. How we choose to move on determines our own contentment. I can stay in the problem, or I can get into the solution. Sometimes the solution is to stop trying to solve other’s problems. I believe God puts families and close friends together to help teach us about boundaries, negotiations and forgiveness.
This graduation reminded me that my own kids are growing fast and soon they will be out of high school to explore a life after. Our friends and family who have surrounded us during their lives will hopefully be there to celebrate. My kids may not realize and appreciate the importance at the time, but someday they will look back and remember those who took the time to celebrate with them.
So, when the DJ cancels the day of the party, we will all remember that it turned out just fine and no one really cared how the music played. It was just as beautiful from a bluetooth speaker. We visited, teased and laughed with one another. Exactly what friends and family should be able to do.