The Greatest Journey


Grad 2012

We talked of milestones on the weekend, after we celebrated our son’s Grade Seven graduation on Friday. Here in Vancouver, the public school system most often runs in two segments, the elementary school years up through grade seven, and in high school, grades eight through twelve. Our son has attended the same small elementary school since kindergarten, a wonderful community of about two hundred students, where kind, inclusive, and supportive behaviour is a way of life. The twenty-nine graduates in the Class of 2012 represent a variety of cultural, educational, and economic backgrounds; I watched some of these boys and girls grow, along with my son, from delightfully exuberant five-year-olds to the charming young people that they are today. 

grad arch

This week, they celebrated the end of that era, and their readiness to take life to the next level. They dressed up, each according to his or her personality, in suits, shirts and cool ties, and lovely dresses in all the colours of the rainbow. Between the morning and the afternoon, they blossomed into smart young adults, ready to take on the world. In their finery, they paraded down the red carpet to the stage, where they were feted and congratulated. Photos were taken, parents were hugged. And then, they partied. The music came on, and they hoovered food and drink like the teenagers that they almost are. The lights were dimmed, but instead of dancing, they played with balloons and glowsticks, like the children that they have only just been. 

Our recent days have been filled with laughter and tears, excitement and anxiety, as our son’s world occupied ours almost to the exclusion of anything else. His week moved through sorrow and joy, and the need to be a balancing force for him took all the inner strength we had. On Friday, it came to its conclusion; on Saturday morning, he said that he felt different. It was then that we talked about milestones, and how, when you pass a true milestone on life’s journey, that you know it, because it changes you. Not in essence, yet deeply. You know that you have reached a new place, as surely as the “welcome” signs announce our arrival in a new town or country. He and his friends are sitting at the border of that new country now, and we will miss the place where they grew up, as surely as we will rejoice in their new home. 

© Leslie Wilkes 2016