Better late than never

My daughter’s graduation celebration was supposed to be last weekend, but it was cold and drizzly out and I had a migraine and the graduation video I was making for her wasn’t done. She was only a few days into quarantine, and…the time just wasn’t right.

One of the rules of the pandemic seems to be that there are no rules of pandemic, so you can have your grad party any time you want to. Or when the weather and your migraines are cooperating. So we had it yesterday.

I would like to share heartwarming photos with you, but I didn’t take any. I was too busy being fully present in the moment. I might regret that later, but I might not.

There were only four of us, and we’re all pretty quiet by nature, so it wasn’t a rager. But it was really nice. For the video, I asked many people who have been important in my daughter’s life to record a message they’d like to share with her. In real life, we’d never have been able to gather all of them in our backyard (divorce, geographic distance), so we got to feel their presence without awkward tensions or social exhaustion. For the first time since 2008, my daughter got to have her whole family in the same place on a momentous occasion. Sorta.

We partied social distance style, which means imperfectly. Grace is still in quarantine (sorta), which means that we all sat outside at least 6 feet away from each other. I rearranged the cozy patio layout to put more distance between the seats. I served only takeout or individually wrapped food (no communal bowls of chips), using disposable plates and cutlery. Her best friend, B., and I reminisced at one point about her visit during the Christmas holidays, which feels so long ago, where I had made food and we had sat close to each other around a table, and she had been full of hopes and plans that have mostly evaporated.

Like everything right now, yesterday was both lesser and more than, simultaneously.

Would we have all teared up watching messages of love to my daughter in our pre-March world? Would the messages have been as heartfelt? I doubt it, and there’s a gift in that. I tried not to project ahead to the winter holidays, where we might not be able to gather even in this limited way. But I did, a little. I just glanced at that possibility in my mind, and then let it push me back into the present with more appreciation for it than I’d had even the minute before.

Yesterday was also the day the New York Times released a cover page with a list of 1,000 dead from C-19. (Click here if you’d like to be able to read it, not just see it.) That’s only 1% of people who will not get to attend any celebrations of any kind this weekend, nor will they get to live through a diminished holiday season come winter. My head today is full of thoughts and questions about the future. When I look ahead to the fall and winter, it is hard to feel anything but anxiety and fear. So I’m looking at my kitchen right now, filled with the remains of yesterday’s celebration, grateful to have such a mess to clean.

I don’t have much to offer this week. I missed my usual Sunday posting here, for the first time in months. I just couldn’t, and I gave myself permission to be OK with that, and this morning I reminded myself that earlier, I’d given myself permission to sometimes do this badly. So here I am, offering the best I’ve got right now:

Late is better than never. Doing something imperfectly is better than not doing it at all. We should do what we can, however we can, while we can. Later, we’ll be glad we did.

Wishing all of you reading a peaceful week.

7 thoughts on “Better late than never

  1. Marian says:

    It occurred to me this past weekend that it was exactly a year ago that my youngest son had his eighth grade graduation ceremony. I’d like to think that if he were in eighth grade this year, I’d have done *something* to mark the occasion, the way you did this weekend with Grace’s (much bigger) occasion (which sounds as though it was lovely). I think it’s probably telling that I can only truthfully say “I’d like to think I’d do something” because it’s also lately occurred to me that it takes internal resources to show up in this kind of way for others (even, sadly, when those others are your own flesh and blood). I think these thoughts mesh precisely with your second-to-last paragraph, which isn’t a surprise because it wouldn’t be the first time we were on the same page.

    Thank you for writing and posting, Rita. You may think you’re occasionally doing this blogging thing badly, but you really are not. Wishing you a peaceful week too.
    xo Marian

    • Rita says:

      Hi Marian,
      I often make plans in my head that never come to anything–probably because I am lacking one kind of resource or another to do them in the ways I want to. And I have regrets about things not done for those with whom I cannot have any chances of do-over. I am slowly learning how to let perfectionism work for me rather than against me, which means knowing when it really matters to do things “right” and when it doesn’t. The things I’ve learned to let go! I had to remind myself Sunday morning that no one would care–or even notice–that there was a plant pot on the patio with no plant, or that the paltry decorations came from the dollar store and weren’t coordinating. More times than I used to know, it really is the thought that counts.

  2. TD says:

    SWEET!!! As I tend to lean more towards the side of introvert rather than extrovert in my social comfort zone that is the perfect celebration party! Adding the video, I suspect took a lot of thought and energy. What I wonderful gift! Peace, comfort and joy to all of you this week. Thanks for writing, Rita.

    • Rita says:

      We all lean introvert, too. 🙂 And making a video does take far many more hours than I ever imagined! It was fun to learn some new skills, though. Sending you wishes for a good week, too.

  3. Kari Wagner Hoban says:

    So much to say but I don’t think I can find the words.
    I am so happy for Grace and being done with college for now (not sure if she is planning on getting her masters).
    I am so sorry you had a bad migraine spell again. Of course, we both know those are cyclical so I get it. I hate that you suffer with them.
    But I love how you made lemonade out of virus-tainted lemons.
    Sending all of you love.

    Also, you don’t have to write about anything of interest. I would read you writing the alphabet.
    Kari Wagner Hoban recently posted…Stay Beautiful and No It’s Not Just a Taylor Swift SongMy Profile

  4. Laura Millsaps says:

    Congratulations to Grace! I’m glad that you had these moments together, even if they are not the ones you planned. The introvert in me sees your graduation party as cozy and intimate (and that patio looks absolutely perfect, too). For us, I’m beginning to see some freedom in this chaos. For one, like mentioned, if the time isn’t right for something for whatever reason, we don’t do it, or do it later, or do it differently. Having all this flexibility forced on us has made us realize that some of the things that we thought were vital to our expectations about an event really were not. Is it disappointing that we missed two commencements this spring? Yes. But we still plan to celebrate when we can, and the anticipation of that has been keeping us going, the calendar be damned.

    • Rita says:

      I kinda love the patio. I planted plants last year that have come back so much bigger and better–definitely a lesson in doing things right and spending less in the long run by spending more at the start (good dirt and good plants).

      I hope you get to have your celebrations soon. I also appreciate the lessons in flexibility, as well as the ones about expectations. Really not having the summer we thought we were going to have, but getting to where I’m going to be able to appreciate the one we’re getting.

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