We had a minorly hectic search for the cap and gown, followed by a quick outfit change to break the tradition I established in 1983 of wearing shorts to the big event, and Aidan Kelly Lowenstein is now a high school graduate.
Held in a crowded Northwestern University basketball stadium, the ceremony had few, if any, remarkable moments.
Superintendent Eric Withershpoon congratulated the students on their accomplishments.
Keynote speaker Robert Reece asked Aidan’s classmates if they thought they were the greatest of the school’s 148 classes. They cheered in assent.
Families routinely ignored the request not to holler too loudly for their loved ones so that everyone’s name could be heard.
The student speaker, although unusual in offering not one, but two, Kanye West references, talked about the changes that she and the rest of the class had gone through and wished all of them well as they moved forward into the next stages of their lives.
The graduating young men and women had a range of pleasure and comfort at their second in the proverbial sun.
Some danced. Some hugged. Some walked, took the diploma and shook the hand of the appropriate person.
Aidan, who had been a study in casual indifference throughout the ceremony, was in the third group.
For me, and I imagine for most of the other thousands of people in the audience, the day was not about the ceremony.
It was about honoring the hard work Aidan put into his schoolwork and extracurricular activities.
It was about celebrating his movement from childhood to adulthood.
It was about acknowledging the young man he has become.
And it was about as many members of the circle who have helped raise him-Dunreith, her mother Helen, Mom, Dad, Jon, and -who could be there in person, as well as those who were there in spirit, gathering to toast his success and share their joy in his growth, his promise and in all of us being together.
We went to the house, greeted Mom, who had stayed behind to avoid the crush of the crowd and make a fruit salad, started unpacking the excessive amounts of food and drink we had purchased, and started celebrating in earnest.
The weather cooperated with a cool, humidity-free afternoon. The conversation flow was lively and the air was suffused with an easy and satisfied joy.
Aidan took in the event with an even grace, his presence and his manner conveying his gratitude.
For much of the close to 13 years Dunreith and I have been together, Aidan’s passing through the same age I was nearly three decades earlier sparked memories of that distant time.
Yesterday had some of that, too, and I felt, just about as strongly as ever before, the awareness of how special each moment is, how many layers there are to life events, how we are always, always, always here and now, poised between the past and future, informed by both, but living in this moment, with all the richness and fullness and ecstasy and success and failure and humanity it has to offer.
He did it.
And so did we.
Now he’s ready to be launched, even as we’ll remember the moment of his graduation, the thousands that came before yesterday, the ones that lie ahead and the oh-so-tender moments we share in the present.