There were about 15 minutes before the ceremony was about to start. I excused myself and made a beeline towards the bathroom. Grandma suggested I go to the closest one which was in the locker room. When I entered, the one stall was occupied. I waited patiently, hoping the lady would finish soon. The clock was ticking by, minute by minute, and I was afraid I was going to miss the beginning.
“Oh, I’m sorry,” the lady opened the door slowly to see me standing there. “I didn’t know anyone was waiting.”
“That’s okay,” I said, as a bit my lip. Of course someone was waiting. It was a women’s bathroom. Aren’t there always lines at women’s bathrooms whenever there is some sort of event going on, even if it was in a locker room? Other ladies were now waiting their turn, but thankfully they knew it was mine.
I hurried as fast as I could. When I was at the sink washing my hands, I felt like I was missing the beginning. When I got back to the auditorium, I was correct. The young ladies were sashaying in line, one after the other, in two rows. I got close to where my husband was sitting, but I stood to watch the graduates walk towards the front of the auditorium to the special seats waiting just for them.
I kicked myself for not asking Katie, my daughter, which side she was going to be on, and I wondered why she didn’t think to tell me. I didn’t even think to ask her before she handed me her cell phone for safekeeping. I studied each of the faces as they passed by. Everyone looked the same in the black gowns and black caps. I was able to recognize a couple of Katie’s friends as they walked by, but I still couldn’t find Katie.
When all the graduates were done walking in, I went to my seat.
“Where was she? Did you see her?” my husband asked me. None of the three of us, husband, Grandma or Grandpa saw our graduate walk by.
“I didn’t see her either! Where did she go?” I asked. Secretly I felt a little better about leaving to visit the bathroom and couldn’t blame that trip for missing the big moment.
“I was looking at their shoes to see if I could find her that way,” said Grandma. That was a good idea since the rest of us were trying to find her face.
We listened to all the speeches and to everyone’s name get announced, but since we were in the back of the room, we think we saw Katie walk up on the stage to get her diploma when we heard her name, but she still looked like everyone else from far away.
When the ceremony was over, the three of us made sure to be extra attentive because this was the day we’d been waiting for. We wanted to see our girl walking by with her diploma in hand. I held my camera steady ready to snap a photo. We studied each face, or each pair of shoes, as the case may be, and when the graduates passed by, we all looked at each other and asked if we saw her, and again we told each other no.
“How could we miss her again?” Grandma laughed.
We walked up the steps, went outside to see the beautiful sunny day and looked towards the spot where we planned to meet after the ceremony. When we got there, Katie stood at the top of the steps smiling down at us holding her diploma.
“Where were you? We couldn’t find you walking in or out. It reminded me of the time when you were in fifth grade. Remember how you used to hide behind your classmates during the vocal concerts?” I asked with a smile.
“Mom, I’m so much more mature than that now. I didn’t hide behind anyone. I was there!” We seriously doubted it since we didn’t see her.
A few weeks later, we received a packet in the mail from the company that took pictures of the graduates just after they received their diplomas. When we opened the envelope, we saw a picture of another graduate, not our daughter.
When I told Katie about it, she said, “That happened to everyone. They messed up everyone’s pictures.”
Receiving that envelope made us more suspicious about Katie’s whereabouts that day! But since she has a diploma, we have to believe she’s the one who picked it up. Even though we didn’t get to see her walk up and down the graduation aisle, we’re proud of all Katie has accomplished. 🙂