The Graduation Invitation and Groaning

It’s that time of life when my contemporaries’ children are finding their way. In a few weeks mine would have graduated from high school and turned 18. I don’t really believe that it had to happen that way. I mean, we chose alternative education so she could have unconventional choices. But her choice is so devastating, for her and for me. I hold the invitation to the graduation party that I just pulled from the mailbox and remember when my girlfriend’s daughter was born, just three months before mine. I see clear eyes and beauty in the photographs that comes from freedom and I feel my heart lurch. I read where she’ll go to college and I whisper under my breath, “Well, fuck ME.”

I love this family so much. How did THEY escape this utter pain? Or a more honest question would actually be, “Why the FUCK couldn’t I pull it off, too? WHY CAN’T THIS ALSO BE OUR STORY!”

I say fuck a lot more now. Sometimes it’s the first word I say when I wake up.

When I ask WHY I do answer it. And the answers only add to my angry and heavy heart. The voice whispers, “Well, YOU quit church. YOU know why. YOU let go of the mother reins and it wounded her. Yes, YOU caused her wound.” Now the voice is shouting.

I hold the voice of comparison and righteousness by the throat at arm’s length and turn back to throw for the dog. I tuck the invite into my back pocket and turn my face from the yelling. But I don’t yet let go of that throat; I just try to ignore it while it continues to scream. It’s raging louder than me.

This is because I haven’t yet raged that there will be no high school graduation for us. No senior portraits. No college acceptances. And maybe no end to this pain.

But it’s just this week that I decided it was time for me to shout louder. I have worked so hard to keep my version of the anger under water but it will be my undoing if I don’t let it move through me. I start with guttural groans when I’m in the car with the 80s Rock Anthems playlist turned up loud. “Where do you feel it in your body?” the counselor asks again and again. Always, always, always, it’s in my throat. Traditional screaming just leaves it behind my eyes. I have to moan from my gut.

The last time we were together, my daughter played me this song. I quoted it back to her as we said goodbye. I play it and feel the groans come when there are no words to express the pain of this loss.

Nothing is as it has been
And I miss your face like Hell
And I guess it's just as well
But I miss your face like Hell

Rivers and roads
Rivers and roads
Rivers 'til I reach you

There have been weeks, maybe even months without hope. In order to live in a state of acceptance so my breath isn’t completely cut off, I had to let go of the hope and watch its balloon float away. But I don’t think a mother’s heart can ever really stop hoping.