Educating the Heart

‘Wherever you go, go with all your heart.’ Buddha

Today our two older children are graduating from College. The academic chops it has taken to earn a Bachelor’s of Science in Biology for him,  and a Bachelor’s of Art in Anthropology for her are impressive, but the aptitude they have for matters of the heart is what today’s blog is about.

I won’t offer much of a backstory here, but suffice it to say that for the better part of 2015 my husband and I have been making our way through a very difficult situation. Our stress levels have not gone unnoticed by those who love us most and it was a few weeks ago when our daughter exclaimed that because of this, we needed a night out to relax. She insisted that she would babysit her little brother but upped the ante on the evening by saying ‘and let me plan your date, ok?’  That was a fun twist that I didn’t offer any resistance to.

Saturday afternoon arrived and she blew into the house much sooner than I expected her to. With an armload of supplies she whisked me off into our bathroom and planted me in front of the mirror and began doing my hair and makeup like a pro.  To say that I felt loved and pampered by the time we left on our date would be a gross understatement.

As we walked out the door she had precise instructions for us. We had a 6:00 dinner reservation under her brother’s name at a 5 star steak house in town. ‘Don’t be late!’  She warned.

It was a restaurant we had never been to before.  As we settled into our booth there were servers lined up with warm towels and all of the other niceties that accompany this caliber of restaurant. She had certainly done her homework.

As our waiter stood in front of our table going over the menu choices I suddenly saw a familiar face emerge in the dim light behind him. Standing there was a young man that always makes my heart swell with emotion. He was a friend of our son’s all through middle and high school. During the time period when he was at our house so much, his Dad was dying of a terminal illness. Because of my work in end of life, and his life situation, he and I had become exceptionally close.  I had not seen him in a few years, and here he was suddenly standing behind our waiter with a big grin on his face.

As the waiter stepped to the side, our young friend knelt down at our table and explained that he was working for the hotel that loomed above the steakhouse we were eating in. He handed us a room key and said, ‘Sutter is on his way to your house right now to take over babysitting from Laney. He’ll stay the night with Ajay and you two will stay in a suite upstairs. They packed an overnight bag and it will be in the room waiting for you.’

He then made a little mini speech to us about how much our love and support had meant to him when his dad was dying. And then just as he had us both blubbering, he excused himself and we were left sitting there staring at the room key that sat on the table between us.

I picked up my phone to call the kids… wanting to express our total shock and gratitude and was immediately admonished by both of them. ‘This is YOUR night, we love you and want you to know how much we appreciate you. Don’t thank us, …Just enjoy your night.’

When we went upstairs we walked into a gorgeous room- and just as promised, a small suitcase sat on the floor. In the middle of the bed was a big red bag.  Inside the bag was a bouquet of flowers arranged to look like a smiley face, a tin of homemade candy, and a stack of cards and letters- from our children, several of their friends, my parents, and my aunt- everyone we had quietly leaned on during the preceding months. The words and sentiments expressed by these people who love us was overwhelming and we both ended up in tears as we digested what they each had to say. As I finished reading the last letter out loud, I looked up at my husband and we smiled at one another- each of us knowing without a doubt, that regardless of what difficulty life may bring our way in the future, nothing will ever be stronger than the force field of love that our two young adult children had just put in place for us. It is things like this that cannot be learned in any text book.

So today, when they each walk across the stage and receive the diplomas they have worked so hard to get, not only will I be cheering them on for their academic achievements- I will also be quietly acknowledging the high honors that they deserve – for the lessons they have mastered on matters of the heart.