There are 357 mothers here today and I am the only one who has a son who is not talking to her. I am the only mother who has gone an entire year whose son refuses to speak with her.
I am the only one.
There is not one other mother here in this position. I would see her if she were here. She would have tears bursting out of her sinus, and she would be right next to me. She would be struggling to the front to get a glimpse of the soul she nurtured and raised.
She is granted one glimpse due to public access and that is what she would have come here for today. We would find one another if she were here. She and I would block out the staring eyes of pity together. We would stand stronger as two instead of just one if she were here today.
But she is not here, I am alone in this pain and hurt. No one in this packed football field knows how this feels.
I am up as close as the pushing elbows would allow me access. There are only five or six names left to go before the name that I chose in the hospital 18 years ago is called. My throat is dry and the tears have blurred my vision to the point I am seeing three of everything.
I wiped the snot and tears with my sleeve as well as possible, clearing the triple vision in time to see my son.
He was smiling his wide confident smile that I saw every day for seventeen of his eighteen years. His bright blue eyes were gleaming with laughter as his friends yelled and cheered him on as he approached the head of the school board.
His cap was slightly falling to the right, he carried himself with a sense of confidence, and walked with the stride of a man. This is the day where he leaves his childhood behind. This is the day he enters the real world.
I held my breath, afraid to blink, and took a crystal clear photograph that will be archived in my memory. I can place this image at the top of his album of memories that I collected over the last seventeen years. This is what I worked so hard for the last seventeen years, this I have in common with the other 357 mothers here today.
We all were given the job of raising our sons to the best of our ability so that we can turn them loose to the world as men at the age of eighteen.
He took his diploma and shook the hand of the respected school official with a firm grasp.
This is my son. He is confident, funny, and has been blessed with my long eyelashes. This is my son that I prayed with every night until the day I had to leave the home I built. This is my son who just got his high school diploma. This is my son that graduated with honors.
This is my son that I helped with homework, took to his sporting practices, and made cookies for every week. This is my son that won’t talk to me, that will not return my calls, tears up my letters, doesn’t open my emails, and I fear I have lost forever.
This is my son that I miss and love.
I don’t think he saw me in the crowd. It is probably a good thing because the sight of me may wipe the joy off of his face. I did not come here today to ruin his day and make him angry. I came here to see the product of my years of work as a mother, and to send him my love through the atmosphere. This day is for him, and I am proud of him.
I watched his distinctive walk as he headed back to his seat among the sea of red and white caps. My chest is going to explode and I cannot hold this back much longer, I know it is time for me to leave. I elbowed my way through the crowd of parents with intruding cameras, siblings, aunts, uncles, grandparents, and joyful faces. I can’t look at anyone, I can’t talk to anyone, and I know that it is vital that I leave at once.
I am the only one walking along the track towards the exit. There are still stragglers filtering in to catch the last few minutes of the ceremony. The families will all gather for photographs after the caps are tossed into the air. They will meet for supper together, they will bring gifts for the graduate, and they are lucky.
I am the only one.
My car is my goal. My car is my refuge, and will take me away from this hurt. My car is my escape, and I can see it at the end of the crowded lot. I keep my eyes on its shining windows, and one step at a time I keep moving towards the place of safety that it offers. The sun is blinding my tear filled vision and time is moving one second at a time.
My hands are shaking as I unlock the door to sanctuary. I get in the seat and I am hit with a flush of hot stifling air. The hot stagnant air comforts me as it envelops me like a warm hug. I relax and let myself fall apart. There are no eyes watching me in the hot car as I allow myself to be a mess for all that is lost.
My heart hurts so much, it feels like it has been ripped open with a serrated knife for no reason and I continue to cry.
I am the only one suffering from a bleeding heart in the hot car on her son’s graduation day. I am the only one out of 357 mothers here today who is leaving early and alone.
I am the only one.
Lisa Boeck-Jenkins is a mother, photographer, artist,(BFA from the University of Utah),writer, speaker, and founder of an organization that works to bring awareness and assist victims of digital domestic abuse and cyber stalking.
She found herself when she lost everything and works to encourage and inspire others. She believes in the power of the story. Every story is a miracle that someone has been waiting to receive.