Forty minutes later and 120 miles west, Mitchell Scott Erwin received his Bachelor of Science in Nursing from Fort Hays State University.
I'm not sure I'll ever get over my disappointment at not being able to see both of them receive their diploma, but the college-powers-that-be are not to be argued with. So, we concocted a plan that was a nightmare of logistics, timing and me traveling 875 miles - but it went off without a hitch. Both graduates got a parent at their graduation, as well as time to celebrate with the visiting family. That's as close to fair as we could get. In spite of the driving, the clock watching, and sitting through two hours of total strangers before we finally got to our graduate, it was an incredible day. I truly could not be prouder of them.
And so, we close the door on another chapter of life. It's the natural progression of life. First we were newlyweds - new name, new home, new dreams. Then we were parents of two babies, 18 months apart- diapers, bottles, no sleep. Then came the school years - homework, spelling bees, little league. Of course grade-schoolers grow into teens - cars, proms, dating, no sleep. And suddenly they were in college - tuition, apartments, late-night meltdowns, career choices.
What now? The house has been an "empty nest" for four years, but somehow it feels as though the whole tree is empty now. There are many changes coming, and change never comes easy for me, but we turn the page and begin a new chapter.