The doorbell just rang and the little girl across the street handed me an envelope. Her smile was contagious. She was floating on a cloud, and I couldn’t help but jump right in with her. As I opened it, I knew exactly what it was. I remembered the feel of the paper and recognized the logo embossed in the corner. Graduating wasn’t easy as she was the first female in her family to do so and the pressure was intense the last several years.
She wasn’t just doing this for herself, as you can well imagine. This would be her mom’s success, and her auntie’s; her grandma’s and her mother’s. While the graduation belonged to her, the entire family would celebrate this accomplishment. They are “that” family; the family that is always there through thick and thin, good times and bad, from daily visits to weekend dinner. I couldn’t fathom what she must be feeling, although we spoke privately about it many times; the fear of failure, what to do next, the positive and the negative.
Unfortunately, this school year was not the one that dreams are made of. The nightmare began with her uncle being killed. This rocked the family to its core. It was the kind of story you see on the ten o’clock news, not the thing you see walking out your front door. Then, right when things were getting back to “normal,” her mom was attacked by a dog and lost her eye. Again, not the thing you see in your neighborhood, let alone with a friend that you consider family.
So, the lovely little angel stopped everything. She brought all of her work home and took care of her mom, her dad, and her four siblings. Quiting her extra-curricular activities followed suit so that she could do the things normally done by her mom. She cleaned, and drove kids to school and sports; she made dinner and put kids to bed; drove her mom to the doctor and to surgery… all the while, with a smile on her face and a kind word to those in her circle. She never once complained although many of us would have. And now, today… she did it.
In one month, she will walk into our great big world with more strength and conviction than most. I can’t pretend that im not scared, though, that she’ll realize that being a kid was a lot more fun that living in the “real world”. However, I now understand that she’s been living in a world longer than me and I have no doubt she is going to do great. Today, I think I’ll just float on that cloud with her while talking about graduation parties and dresses. She deserves it and life is so serious, isn’t it? We all deserve a little “cloud” time every once in a while.
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