Our eldest grand daughter, Elena, just graduated from fifth grade at Casis Elementary School. Elena invited me to the graduation ceremony, enough said.
Bright and early Thursday morning Lynn and I showed up with a zillion parents and grand parents to wait for the auditorium to open. Casis is a wonderful neighborhood school and both Lynn and Burton have been instrumental in making it even more special.
As we walked along the path to the school it soon became quite obvious that much time and creativity had been put into the theme of this day. “Oh the Places You’ll Go” by Dr. Seuss.
Whimsically placed along the sidewalks were six tall poles, these poles zigzagged along the walk. Everyone stopping at each pole to find their child’s photo. The top of each pole was titled, Kindergarden through 5th Grade. Below, each classroom had its own row full of the class pictures from each year. What fun it was to see how each child had grown and changed in these short six years. Even more fun to watch these children run from one pole to the next spotting themselves and marveling at the metamorphosis that had taken place.
The auditorium was standing room only as the 5th graders solemnly marched in to “Pomp and Circumstance.” If that wasn’t enough to get the tears rolling the students then sang a very sappy (Elena’s words) song, “Wherever You Go.” Lynn and I were reaching for Kleenex and this was only the beginning. The principal then began and ended the ceremony with quotes from “Oh the Places You’ll Go.
While his words were meant for the 5th grade graduates, something stuck such a cord deep within me. I wonder if Dr. Seuss really intended his readers to be adolescents or were his words truly meant for anyone entering a new phase of their life?
"All alone! Whether you like it or not, alone is something you'll do quite a lot!"
Oh how alone I felt in that moment, the room was brimming with people, yet all I could think of was, how I wish Steve could have been there. He would have been so proud of Elena, of his daughter, of the entire family. He would love to see the accomplishments of Dylan, as well as Elena, to know how with every passing day they grow brighter, more curious, kinder and more thoughtful. Steve is the one who should have been sitting by my side, not the stranger sitting next to me. “All alone! Whether you like it or not”...is something I feel I have been “quite a lot.”
“You'll get mixed up, of course, as you already know. You'll get mixed up with many strange birds as you go. So be sure when you step. Step with care and great tact and remember that Life's a Great Balancing Act. Just never forget to be dexterous and deft. And never mix up your right foot with your left.”
Mixed up, confused not knowing quite where to go or what to do. Was Dr. Seuss writing these words for me? How many times during this last year have I felt I have stumbled and fallen, not “stepping with care and great tact”...remembering that “Life’s a Great Balancing Act?”
I have often felt that once Steve became sick, my balance was off. The scales of our lives had tipped too heavily on my side. I felt weighed down with decisions and responsibilities that I was not equipped to handle. Now that Steve is gone, I realize it is up to me to step with care and purpose, reason and intent.
Easy? No, but I feel I’m learning to be “dexterous and deft.” Much like a tightrope walker, I feel I’m finding the taught rope under my feet and with each step I pray my footing and my decisions will be wise and surefooted.
“You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose. You're on your own. And you know what you know. And YOU are the one who'll decide where to go...”
Oh Dr. Seuss, this is where I might question your words. While it is up to me for the “direction I choose” and to “know exactly what to do” I’m thankful I have a faith that enables me to believe in a God who is bigger than me. I believe if I allow him to work within me, he will walk through this life right by my side, so that I’m never really alone. With God’s gentle wisdom and love, together we will know “where to go” and “what to do.”
The principal’s ending words, Dr. Seuss’s words, were the boost that I needed to hear, to enable myself to move forward.
“You're off to Great Places!
Today is your day!
Your mountain is waiting,
So... get on your way!”
While I often question what my future will hold. I find it somehow threatening to realize that I’m living a life as a widow now. I often feel myself sinking in a mire of self-pity, wishing with all my heart that Steve were still right by my side. The reality is, Steve is gone and I must fill my future with purpose and intention. So, here I go Dr. Seuss, along with all he other 5th Graders at Casis.
“I’m off to Great Places and Today is my day,”
“My mountain is waiting...I’m on my way...”
For what it’s worth,
Psalms 118:24 “this is the day that the Lord has made: let us rejoice and be glad in it.”