Three years culminating into an hour and a half.
Smiles and waves seeing my husband walking down the aisle in his cap and gown.
Tears flowing witnessing him being "hooded".
Raw emotion ripping apart my heart watching a still-fresh grieving, amazingly courageous widow receive her husband's hood and diploma. My husband's closest school friend was not there to celebrate graduation. Not in flesh. But in memory and spirit he was there. He was definitely there.
Lots of hugs and congratulations all around.
Hearing "we'll stay in touch" over and over.
Loading into the van to transport the family and extended family back home.
Standing in the kitchen taking in my freshly graduated husband.
I had heard a few days ago that the transition out of school is actually harder than school itself. I thought, "there's no way that can be true! I can't WAIT!"
Then yesterday afternoon came.
That sense of something grand, coming to an end.
The routine of an ever-changing semester schedule is no more.
No more juggling who's going to take the kids to school or pick them up.
No more papers or required readings.
No more late night or early morning classes.
It's all finished.
But yet it's not.
There is and will be grief.
But also hope.
Hope for what is to come.
To take what we've learned and embed it into who we are.
It's not over.
It's a step.
One big three year step that has had hundreds of little steps intertwined in it. Steps that ebbed and flowed into new steps. Steps that have taken us to new places of life. Much deeper places. That will continue to propel us forward.
Even in death.
It's not the end.
It's just another step in our journey called life.