The sun is warm on my cheeks, my long hair is twirling in the wind, and I am smiling.
The new summer grass is prickling my bare legs as I adjusted my skirt beneath me. The small grassy hill is lumpy and worn, but I can see the graduating class perfectly.
I could probably find a spot in the bleachers with the rest of the parents, but this is where I choose to watch.
Three years ago I sat in this same spot to watch my oldest son graduate. Three years ago, my heart was broken and my head was engulfed in a fog of confusion. Three years ago, my oldest son did not want me to be a part of his graduation day.
Three years ago, I thought that I was the only mother silently watching her son graduate from the sidelines. Three years ago, I was lost.
Hundreds of people are scattered throughout the stadium. Large groups of families and friends litter the lawn and have filled the bleachers. We are all united in our support for someone that we love. I may be sitting alone, but I belong. I am here to watch my youngest son walk away from his childhood and into his future.
My heart is bursting with pride as the graduates of 2017 file onto the football field with their red and white gowns dancing in the wind. Tears of joy and pride leak out of my eyes and wet my smiling cheeks.
A hand reached down for me to shake, and I instinctively offered my hand in reply. I looked up, made a visor with my spare hand and realized I was looking at my x-husband.
“Hello Lisa, it is nice to meet you. I was married to you for twenty years.” He said as he dropped my hand and lightly bopped me upside the head and continued walking. The handshake was not offered in a gesture of peace.
I placed my hand on the ear that had just been lightly struck to comfort it, and saw my oldest son standing where his father had left. He must have been standing directly behind his father when he came to shake my hand and bop me in the ear.
“That was awkward.” My son said.
“I’m okay, don’t worry about it. I am so glad to see you David. How are you? How is your brother? I haven’t seen him yet.”
“He is good. I just left him, look I got a picture.”
I looked into the viewfinder of my son’s camera and saw a close up of my youngest sons smiling face on his graduation day. I wiped the tears from my eyes and laughed.
“Oh David, he looks great. He looks happy. This is a nice camera; will you take a picture of Lance and I after the ceremony?” I asked.
“Of course, Mom.”
“Three years ago, that was you out there. This is where I sat and watched you. Boy, it has been a long three years, hasn’t it?”
“No kidding. It has been a really long three years.” My son replied with a laugh.
A large lump has become lodged in my throat and demanded that I remain silent. I nodded my head and smiled at my son, as my tears sprinkled the prickly lawn.
“Mom, I’ll be back. I need to find where everyone is sitting.” My son said as he got up to leave. I smiled and waved.
As I watched my 21-year-old son disappear into the crowd I realized that I am okay. I can sit alone, I am not afraid, I am not shattered and broken, and the fog has cleared.
The miracle of healing has begun, for myself and for my sons. I know that my sons will thrive in this life, and somehow so will I.
Sitting alone with my face turned towards the sun, I love who I am.
I am smiling.
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.