At one point that summer, my family had a graduation party for me. My mom threw big grad parties for my older siblings. My sister’s party even had a live band in the garage. It was a big bash with family, friends, music, and food.
My mom was an incredible hostess and pulled out all of the stops whenever she could. People loved her parties and looked forward to them. My brother didn’t want a band, but his party was as big, full of his baseball crew, neighbors, family, and friends.
My party would be smaller. It was just assumed I would understand and be okay with it. I also shared the spotlight with my brother’s college graduation, and my brother-in-law’s grad school graduation.
My mom was in the hospital. As a result, my Uncle Ron videotaped the entire party for her to watch when she came home. Uncle Ron loved his video camera that rested on his shoulder and I could tell he enjoyed walking around the party filming for her to see. We were all upbeat and show how much fun we were having so she could be part of it.
My teenaged-self resented that the party ended up not being for me at all. I loved my mom and I was devastated that she wasn’t able to plan my party, shop for it, cook, and be her amazing hostess-self.
But I put on my happy face and literally smiled for the camera. She would never see the videotape of the party. I still have it in a box in my basement. Watching it was one of the saddest memories I have. In the video, I could actually feel the desperation of joy we were all trying to impart on my hospitalized mom. It was as if we felt we could will her to improve and have some happiness.
My extended family and some good family friends came to the party and gifted me with wonderful items to help me prepare for college in the fall. It was absolutely not the same without my mom, the life of the party, there to share it with.
The Dude wasn’t able to come to the party because it was smaller and family-focused. The week after, he called and said he could only stop by for a few minutes but wanted to bring me a gift for my graduation. Be still my heart. I had a real, live boyfriend, and he bought me a gift?
I waited in the front window, watching for his car. When he pulled up, I ever-so-casually ran out to see him. He pulled up in front of our house, on the wrong side of the street (what a badass), and rolled down the passenger side window to hand me the gift. It was a cassette tape—Peter Gabriel’s So album. With a dazzling smile, he told me to listen to In Your Eyes because it was now our song. Then he drove off and I about fainted on my lawn.
I began ripping the plastic covering off of this coveted cassette and headed straight for the boom box in my room. I held fast forward through every song until I got to In Your Eyes and then… well, the grin stayed plastered on my face for a very long time. What a summer this was shaping up to be.