Graduation Day. Emily walks the long walk from the back of the auditorium all the way to the stage. Alone. She is one of two students attending NES, a new program this year. She is half of the class. She is the only graduate this year. Her great aunt is surprised that the school would make such a special graduation day for just one student. Our student, but none-the-less, just one. I am happy for Emily. I'll admit a tear or two slid from the corner of my eyes, along my cheeks to be wiped away hurriedly before anyone noticed. Dave did not try to hide his.
Her teacher, Christa presents Emily with her certificate of completion after speaking for a few moments about the wonders of Emily: her work ethic, her generous spirit, her happy personality, the way she pitches in and does classroom chores without being asked to. She talks about her shining light and her bright smile and her jokes. I admit, they aren't very good, but she finds them clever and funny.
After she received her certificate, Emily stood on stage and read her speech to her audience. Family and friends and students from different classes at the same school, in attendance at her graduation listened carefully. We couldn't see her face, she is a bit shy when presented with a large auditorium, but we heard her words: thank you Miss LaC., and Kailey, my BFF forever, my mom and dad. She has a yellow rose for Kailey and they hug. Solid friends. Good friends. Supportive friends. They will miss each other every single day, but somehow I know they will be alright. They'll see each other at Special Olympics and bowling and art class and the once a month dances they attend. They are, quite literally, attached at the ear, when they are not together.
When the ceremony is over, we all head down the hall to her classroom where her teacher, her co-student and Emily have decorated in pink and purple: streamers, tablecloths, napkins, paper plates and silverware. There are two kinds of salad and ziti in sauce, bread and three kinds of cookies and a giant cake with Emily's picture on it. We watch a wonderful slide show Christa put together for Emily; of her year with Christa and the places they've been ... summer camp, job sites, classroom work. It's a lovely slide show and I am thankful to see where she's been and what she's been doing.
Emily poses for photos with Dave & I, her Godmother, teachers and friends and smiles all the while. She visits with her guests and enjoys her special day. It is so much like her.
She's excited: Rosy cheeked, sparkly eyed.
She's is warm chocolate pudding with whipped cream on top.
She is just perfect.
"Mom!" "I'm going to be twenty-three my next birthday!"
Those of you who've read my blog for a while will recall, this is the annual right of passage for Emily. Turn one age and start projecting to the next.
God Bless her.