Summit Church was filled to capacity. Parents, grandparents friends and family gathered to watch 67 young adults culminate 18 years of academic advancement in a wonderful and spirited Home Educated graduation ceremony.
Having a last name of Abramovitz has always lent itself to either being first or near the beginning (or sometimes near the end when someone elected to reverse the order of activity) whenever it was time to participate in presentations, receive seat assignments or stand still while receiving shots in the nurses office. And so it was on Saturday, May 10. Erin was the first to receive her degree. And, Sue and I handed it to her. In a strange but enjoyable twist on the traditional orderly and somewhat pompous ceremony conducted in virtually every major public or private high school in the country, we actively participated in our daughters graduation. It was fun.
As an aside, what made it even more fun was that some of our family was able to join us for the celebration. In a day of escalating gas prices, family commitments and life challenges, we appreciated the sacrifices that Sue’s mom & dad, her sister and brother in-law and my dad made to attend. More importantly, Erin was honored by their presence.
Well, when they announced Erin’s name and said who was responsible for raising this wonderful, beautiful, intelligent young woman (OK…just they just announced our names — you could insert the words “despite her parents efforts” here) Sue and I stood up, walked up three or four stairs and met her in the middle of the stage. Then, she handed her mother a flower, we handed her the diploma, we hugged and went to have our picture taken. Very nice touch. Kudos to the Greater Little Rock Home Educators for providing a very enjoyable and meaningful celebration for graduation.
So, our second of three arrows has now been officially launched from our quiver into the great unknown called “life”. She’ll be home through the summer while she works and gets ready for college life. She’ll be attending John Brown University in Siloam Springs with her brother Bryan (who will be a junior this coming fall).
She has been such a joy as our daughter and in our home and I wrote the following words in our latest family newsletter about the experience of sending our second child into the next phase of their life adventure:
“When we went through this two years ago with Bryan (going through all the graduation ceremony) it was new for us. The unfamiliarity coupled with the upcoming sense of change in our family made it difficult to adjust. I sense that we will adjust better to the change in our family when Erin leaves the nest but we will miss her just as much. It doesn’t get easier, no matter how familiar you are with the process.
Sunday, our church’s Youth Pastor, Brandon Bernard, spoke during our worship service as part of a church-wide celebration of all the graduating seniors. He started off by showing us two different sizes of shoes. The first was an adult sized tennis shoe which he compared to the senior class. “Seniors, this shoe represents you and the fact that you are walking into the next part of your journey.” he stated. “This shoe (holding up a very small children’s shoe) represents where your parents are right now.” he continued. You could almost hear the tears well up in eyes around the church as he hit on the difference between how we as parents reminisce about our children growing up and how they view the same process eagerly anticipating the future.
It seems like yesterday that I was swinging Erin in my arms, cuddling with her on my chest, or standing over her while she slept so peacefully in her crib. In preparation of putting a video presentation together for her, we’ve combed through hundreds of photos. It’s in that process that I’m brought back in time to her years of growing up. There were pictures of our trip to Disneyland when she was 5 and could barely see above the mechanical cup and saucer she was riding. I remember her little lisp that has been corrected through time and braces. I recall a very dirty “purr-kitty” that she dragged with her wherever she went. I remember praying on my knees for her and my other two children every morning before I went to work. I prayed that she would be a woman that pursued God with an unabashed passion and that God would bring a similarly minded and passionate man (not too soon) as her husband. Well, she is becoming the former and we are not too eagerly waiting on the latter :-).
As I lovingly viewed those old photographs in contrast to the more recent digital pictures I saw my little Erin mature into a beautiful, godly woman over a few hours. What has taken 18 years to occur seemed like it happened overnight. Now she is getting ready to finish her time in high school, enjoy her last summer before college and then link arms with her brother as they head up to John Brown University this August. Bryan will be a Junior when they start up for the 2008-09 school year.
There are times during the course of raising your children where you wonder as a parent if you did all you could do to prepare them for the reality of the world’s harshness. Then, every once in a while you hear them say something or see them do something that gives you a glimpse that maybe some of the effort won’t be in vain.
Erin really wanted to attend a private school in Minnesota. However, after receiving the financial package from them, it was apparent that it would create a financial hardship for her to go to Northwestern College. Thankfully, God provided enough scholarship funds from John Brown that she saw that as His guidance. Though it may not have been her first choice, it was a good alternative. She had told us she wanted to go into sports broadcasting and potentially be an on-the-field reporter (we laughed at the thought of a petite 5′ 1″ woman interviewing a 6′ 7″ defensive lineman). However, as she went through the year she began to sense that God was changing her direction and she is now going to pursue a counseling degree, at least initially. When I asked her why she changed her mind, her response was one of those glimpses that some of what we said stuck with her. She said that as a sports broadcaster she would likely be traveling a lot and it would be very demanding. Though a counseling career may also be demanding, it would be much easier to be a “stay at home” mom coming from that career than from a sports broadcasting position. My little girl is growing up.
This year Erin has volunteered as a Big Sister to a second grade young girl. She has worked as a volunteer at FamilyLife in the Broadcast area for credit. She has been instrumental in starting a bible study with some of her friends and she taught a Sunday School class to 2nd grade girls. My little Er-Sue is growing up.
There will be many more tears shed between now (even as I’m writing this) and when we drop her off at John Brown in August. She’s ready. We’re ready. It’s not easy but it’s time. Time to fly, Erin. We will miss you around the house everyday. We love you very much.”