I’m Sailing Right Behind

May 9, 2008

so . . . i’m done.
          — Lynn DeAngelis, b. 1985
              American scientist and athlete
              in a text message to her mother
              on the occasion of her last undergraduate exam

Evelyn Rose DeAngelis, my darling, my stringbean, she who is dew, who is gold, who is absolutely perfect, graduates from college tomorrow. People keep congratulating me on this milestone, and I don’t understand why. Lynn has done all the work.

She pursued a demanding schedule of science courses, many with three-hour labs each week in addition to the four hours of lecture time. She changed her focus after her second year, deciding against the seven-year march that would have put her in medical school this year instead of a conventional academic senior year and to go for a B.A. in biology instead of a B.S. This meant she had to squeeze four years of humanities courses into two so she could graduate this spring. She played field hockey for four years, sometimes arranging all that lab work around away games that required seven hours of travel, and maintaining her athletic conditioning through the off-season. And she worked at least twenty hours a week in the fitness center and in the labs. It makes me feel foolish for dropping out of the madrigal singers one semester because in one course I had to read twenty-two European novels in sixteen weeks.

I have had some moments of anxiety this week. Events like graduations and weddings are, from my point of view, more fun to have done than they are to do. I like to look back and say, well, wasn’t that a nice day! In the moment, I feel anxious about meeting new people, about my appearance, about being photographed (because I am anxious about my appearance), about a dozen other imagined disasters and snafus that in all likelihood will not occur.

I was wobbling on Tuesday, but half-way through a bag of Famous Amos coconut cookies I took a deep breath and centered myself. I examined all my fears and realized that I have every skill and resource I need to cope with anything, including moving into the next phase of my life with Lynn. She doesn’t need a mother anymore. She needs a friend and an advisor.

And  maybe I am deserving of some measure of congratulations. Lynn is where she is in part because I did my job well, raising a confident, poised, and energetic young woman.

So sail on, my Wonderful Wunski. Your time has come to shine. All your dreams are on their way. I’m sailing right behind!

“The thinks are all out of my head. I have to go to sleep now and get some new ones.”
               — Lynn with Snuggle, 1989

Lynn Dreaming

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