Recently my son finished the third deployment and got a police escort from the freeway exit to his house. Usually, this sort of thing happens during the day and involves both lights and sirens, but since his flight got in after midnight, it was a hushed affair.
As I followed the procession that night at about 1:15 am, I thought about all of the sacrifices my son had made over the years, and I thought how very cool and appropriate it was they were honoring him this way! I felt proud of him and happy to be his mom.
I remembered another time thirty-nine years ago, when his dad had graduated from college. At the time, my then twenty-two-year-old husband had worked a full-time job while taking on a full load in college for four years, and he’d maintained high grades throughout. On his graduation day, I was tired because I had a five-week-old baby (my third in three and a half years), and I reasoned that I didn’t have a sitter or anything to wear. My young husband said it wasn’t a big deal if I didn’t go. So I did the easy thing and stayed home while he went to his college graduation alone and walked across a stage to get his diploma with no family there to support him.
That is something I will always regret.
I have learned that certain events only come around once, and if you miss them, you miss out. Some events in life deserve to be majorly acknowledged and celebrated! They deserve our full attention, recognition, and applause! Things like graduations, weddings, recitals, getting an award, birthdays, even funerals, etc. These are the times to show up!
On the night that my son came home from his Africa deployment, I followed a quiet but well-lit-up procession and thought about how even if it was in the middle of the night, and my son said he didn’t care if I was there, it mattered to me that I showed up.
I believed that it mattered to him too deep down too. Just like thirty-nine years ago, it had mattered to his dad. I'm glad I learned from that experience, and this time, I didn't do the easiest thing and stay home. There are times in life when showing up matters. I’m glad I figured it out.