Rachel’s Graduation

Today is the big day! Graduation from Virginia Dominion University, Annabel said as she was helping her sister-in-law get ready.

Where is my brother, She asked.

With the kids in the other room, Annabel replied, He’s having a rough time and he needs us.

Pomp & Circumstance. Yes, I know. His brain can’t handle it. That will be up to you to hold him while I’m up walking across the stage, Rachel said.

I have a job to do, and he will need me, Annabel said, He will need you too after.

The two women walked out to the living room where I was waiting. You will be fine, Rachel said, hugging me tightly.

I will be right there at your side, Annabel said, also hugging me.

I was extremely grateful to have both women hugging me, because I knew that I was in for a huge struggle in just a few short hours. I kept repeating in my mind, Do not ruin your sister’s graduation. Whatever happens, Annabel will catch you. Do not ruin your baby sister’s graduation. Tears started leaking from my eyes as the thoughts of what happened last time. The parents’ bitter divorce. My big sister Jessica’s ruined graduation.

I looked over into the playpen to see my daughter (the oldest of the three) taking her role of big sister/cousin and protector seriously. The children seemed happy with their toys, and I didn’t want to ruin that. Especially for baby Caroline, who would never know her father.

For whatever reason, Pomp & Circumstance swam to the forefront of my mind, and I absolutely lost it. The song traditionally played at graduations all over suddenly consumed my mind. My wife held me as tightly as she could, understanding that it was all part of the combination of my mental condition as well as bitter memories of the past. Annabel’s first job was Mom, and taking that role seriously, she did her best to shield my tear-filled face from the play pen with the three children in it.

It was time to make our way to Norfolk and I promised myself that I would do whatever was necessary to not ruin my little sister’s gradation. None of us wanted a repeat of my big sister’s ruined ceremony, but it still haunted my mind all these years later.

Annabel drove us to the commuter lot at the light rail station and said, Parking at VDU is going to be impossible, and I don’t want to take my chances.

Rachel and I grumbled, hating TWT down to the core, but my wife did make a vaid point. Rachel has seen graduations come and go, and witnessed the parking nightmare first hand. Eventually, the train dropped us off at the medical complex where we would change to a bus that would take us the 15 minutes to the University.

Annanbel, as much as I hate riding this agency, look at all this mess! We’re only at 26th Street! I groaned, because on Saturdays the bus was only once every hour.