The year Jessica graduated from college was a year filled with the highest of highs and the lowest of lows, all wrapped up in a twelve month span. At the beginning of that year Jim and I began searching for a new house, a task that delighted me with the endless possibilities. Our first house had been easy to pick out and purchase since it was my first home purchase and I entered into that process without any specific ideas of my wants and needs. Now fourteen years later, I entered the same process with a very detailed list along with a bundle of anticipatory delight and energy. Do you remember the picture of Jim with his gigantic tomato plants? Well, that may give you a sense of where he would have chosen to live...in the country. There I was with my city girl attitude and my city girl tastes, and what's a city girl to do when she's married to a vegetable growing wanna be farmer? Right again...compromise.
After many weeks of unsuccessful house searching, we found a half acre lot where we could get all of our wants and needs met by having a house built for us. Everything was going so smoothly, even getting our house sold without even listing it. We were riding on a natural high, choosing a builder and a house plan while also making plans to attend Jessica's graduation. It was during this time that my dad's health began to slowly fade, and although he didn't talk about it much, he finally admitted that he was not even feeling strong enough to make the trip to D.C. One thing I knew was that there were very few things that would keep Dad away from Jessica's graduation, so in the back of my mind I wondered if he was downplaying the seriousness of the weakness. He continued to assure us that he was beginning to feel a bit stronger.
Jessica's graduation was an adventure. Jim drove our car out so that he could bring Jessica and all of her belongings back home. Mary had never flown, so she and I flew out to the festivities. She entertained everyone around her with stories about her niece graduating, her dad who had to stay home, her mom who was riding out in a van with her other sister, her excitement about flying for the first time, and the delicious chocolate chip cookies that were served...boundless, pure enthusiasm! After landing, we picked up our bags and headed to the CUA campus, but not before Mary loudly proclaimed to anyone within earshot that the weather was way too cold for her comfort. Yes, the weather was more than unseasonably cold for the end of May, but the rest of us just accepted this fact, added another layer, and moved on with our celebration...not Mary! To this very day, when asked about Jessica's graduation, she will eventually find a spot in the discussion to bring up the cold weather.
Watching Jessica graduate from college was an emotional experience. I felt a deep joy as she received her diploma, witnessing first hand the incredible woman she was becoming. It marked the time I was seeing her as a true adult, a young woman capable of going out into the world, well prepared to continue her journey. Within a couple of weeks she was set to begin her dream job of driving the weinermobile for one year. After training, she was heading to the east coast all set to begin the adventure of a lifetime, totally unaware of what was about to turn the highest of highs into the lowest of lows.