Worth Crying About

Yesterday was a full day for me: full of activity, full of special people and full of emotion. I cried, but only once.

The day began for Mary Beth and me with a trip to a state university with Steele, my oldest son. Steele is likely going to law school in the fall, and we attended an event for accepted students. The faculty and staff were impressive, and they gave Steele a lot to think about, wherever he ultimately attends.

Back home in Woodford County, we met my other son, Clay, with his prom date at a scenic site. Along with four other couples, the two posed in front of a scrum of parents snapping pics with smartphones. The kids were clad in impossibly elegant tuxedos and gowns; the parents wore jeans and athletic wear.

Then we were off to Lexington for a college reunion. My wife and I are both graduates of Transylvania University, and while 1980 is my year, I also affiliate with the Class of ’81. As a transfer student, I endured orientation with these people. Besides, they throw a tremendous party, and together, we conjure up and repurpose memories of our youth.

Did I cry? Almost at one event and undeniably at another.

The prom pic-fest has never done much for me, and while I am routinely overwhelmed to see Clay edging into manhood, the prom thing doesn’t move me.

The reunion thing does. There were a lot of hugs and back-slaps, but also, I had a moment with one person. I’ll keep the details private, but I must tell you that reaching out to reconnect can generate a powerful impact you might never have anticipated. I nearly cried.

Where I shed real tears was at a luncheon of strangers. At the law school’s last-ditch recruitment event, I was seated slightly behind Steele as we turned our chairs to face the speakers at the podium. When Steele reached up to swipe his bangs a bit, I focused on his hair and his head. Sounds weird, I know, but he was right in front of me.

I found myself staring at the whorl of hair on Steele’s head. It’s always been there, of course, even when it was the wisps of a newborn. And when it was baby blond, right beside my face as I carried him onto playgrounds or upstairs to bed. It was often covered up through the years by caps, either the baseball or graduation kind. And soon he’ll graduate again and move on. And move out.

Nobody saw me cry, I hope. With my napkin, I faked a mouth-wipe and edged up to the tear ducts. It’s not rare for me to get a bit choked up, but I don’t normally get overwhelmed by the progress of life and loved ones. I did yesterday, though.

And I might again today. Maybe when I think about that little blond-haired boy. Or that conversation at the reunion. Or maybe when I look at those prom pictures.

Yikes. Life is worth crying about.

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