It’s a weekend day in June. This must be a graduation party. I’ve lost track of how many we’ve attended and how many more we have to go. This is the first weekend in June, but this is our third or fourth graduation party. It’s a neighbor’s daughter that we’ve known since she was born, so we have to go celebrate with them.
I’m tired. I mowed the grass this morning (about 2 miles), then I took a 2.5 mile walk. But, that’s not why I’m tired. It’s the grief thing. Kayla left today for a party in Toledo and Tywana was out running around most of the day. So, I have had a lot of time to just sit and think. Those can be the most exhausting days, when there are few distractions. Watching television is helpful, but it doesn’t keep my brain occupied enough. So, by the time it’s time to get ready to go to the party, 5:30, I’m just not feeling it.
We make our appearance and greet old friends and neighbors. We end up in the basement with a couple we hadn’t met before. We ask how they know our neighbors and they explain their girls played sports together. Then they ask the question. “Do you have kids the same ages as the Schaerges’?” For the last year every time we get that question, of course our thoughts laser focus in on Shayna. It’s not as if my thoughts are ever far from her. Graduation parties remind me it was just two years ago we were having the party for Kayla. It’s just two years from when we were supposed to be having Shayna’s. I’m already dreading all of the invitations from the class of 2018. As of now, there is no way I can attend those parties celebrating those kids’ milestones when Shayna’s milestones are all over. But, that’s two years from now. There is no need to spend any time on that thought now.
Back to the moment. What do we say to this couple? Today we take the easy way out. We don’t feel like putting them through the awkwardness of having to say “Oh, I’m so sorry.”. We tell them about Kayla and her being at the University of Toledo studying pre-med. This turns out to be a great segue as their daughter wanted to go to Ohio State and ended up deciding on UT in nursing. This gives us fodder for conversation for the next half hour or so since I went to OSU and Kayla is where their daughter is going. I feel like Peter when he denied Jesus though. I want to tell them that Shayna is my Buckeye daughter, born in Ohio and bound for Ohio State to study veterinary medicine. I want to tell them that Lauren, who is graduating is a year younger than Kayla and two years older than Shayna. I am just as proud of Shayna now as I ever was. I love her every bit as much as I ever did. I hate when I can’t brag on her. But, I keep it in. Just keep the conversation nice and light and get out of here.
We only stay at the party for an hour and half or so, less than half the time we would have stayed a few years ago. Thankfully, Tywana was ready to go too. We walked to the party and I was already thinking of my excuses as to why I had to walk home when she turned to me and asked if I was ready to leave. After 29 years together I don’t know if she was ready to leave or if she just knows me well enough to know I was ready to go.
We get home and feed the dogs and catch up on a little TV. It’s just the two of us again since Kayla is spending the night in Toledo. I hardly ever go to bed early, but I decide to turn in early to do some reading. Tomorrow is another graduation party. I’m going to need my rest.