Sunday, May 13, 2012
Not only was today Mother's Day, but it was also graduation day at William & Mary. The main graduation ceremony took place in the late morning, and then each department held a separate commencement event/reception at different locations around campus at 2:30. Since I was in Williamsburg and it was a beautiful spring day, I figured I'd wander around campus some and soak up the celebratory environment.
Whenever I witnessed this taking place, I stepped in and asked if they'd like me to take a picture of everyone together. They were always so appreciative. I'd take a couple of pictures, sometimes with multiple cameras, congratulate the graduate, and then move on to another family. It was a joyous way to spend an afternoon.
Beyond the pleasure of helping out all these various strangers, walking around campus on graduation day brought so many different emotions to the surface. It was on exactly this day 29 years ago that I was one of those gradudates on this very campus. I'll always remember the bittersweet feelings I had that day as I excitedly looked forward to the future, and yet felt deep sadness over the recognition that some of these friends I might never see again.
As I saw each family beaming with pride as they looked upon their new graduate, I got a foreshadowing of what it will be like for me in just 2 years as my own children reach that day. I realized that it's not really about graduating college, as for many of us this is practically a given. Rather, it's about seeing your child become an adult. It's realizing that in some ways it seems like it was so long ago that they were little toddlers, and at the same time it seems like it was just yesterday. What I saw today was the immense pride that each family felt as they saw their little babies somehow magically turn into capable, successful young adults ready to take on the world. I'm certain it's something that parents have been feeling for thousands upon thousands of years regardless of their nationalities or their cultures. It's a truly universal experience. Pretty humbling and amazing.