All of my mom's side of the family showed up and it was great to see them all. Much to my dismay, none of my dad's side came, including my grandmother, which is really disappointing; I used to be her favorite, but she and my aunt had a falling out with my dad about a year ago and things just haven't been the same since. None of my old friends came, which was really disappointing, but also gave a sense of closure to those relationships. They had been becoming more and more distant for the last few years and none of them came to visit when I was in the hospital, so it's kind of settled. No hard feelings, just dissolution. And I got to see some of my old friends from work that still work with BF, that I'd been longing to see again, but couldn't go to the office or anything, so I really enjoyed seeing them. And there's also a group of friends that my parents grew up with; they were all teenagers and then young parents, and then divorcee's together, but to me they've all just been like surrogate aunts and uncles, so having a graduation party without them would just have seemed wrong, even though I haven't seen a few in quite a while.
Oh and I actually worked up the courage to put my legs through the torture of high heels for the first time! Exciting considering I'm already twenty-four. I just never had the inspiration or the right dress or the opportunity to take them off as soon as they started making my knees collapse on themselves. So, yeah, exciting.
The food was great. Just sandwiches and cold salads, but they were gourmet sandwiches on artisan breads and they were really divine and my mom's boyfriend is a trained chef and makes the most divine potato salad in the world, and BF made my favorite chicken salad. And my wonderful new step-mom and my dad bought the cake. Now I was expecting a sheet cake with some red roses and "Congratulations Rachel" written on it, but I got far more. When my step-mother went to the bakery to get the cake, she happened to be helped by non other than the owner. They got to talking about why we would be having a graduation party so late in the summer and after hearing the story, this wonderful woman offered to do the artwork on the cake as a gift to me. So instead of a sheet cake, I got a beautiful, two-tiered black and white paisley patterned cake with a great big red fondant bow on top of it. I was blown away as were all of my guests. I'm definitely going to stop in to thank her personally and I will certainly remember them when it comes time to do a wedding cake.
My wonderful parents, well my dad really because my mom would've gotten all choked up, gave a beautiful speech about how proud they are of me and how big an accomplishment this is and all the adversity, yada ya, and my insatiable love of learning, yada ya. It was really hard not to cry and really touching. I hear bits and pieces of how proud my dad is of me from various people I run into that he's told of my various accomplishments, but I rarely get to hear it straight from his mouth (I get lots of really great hugs though). It was great to have them both there and to be able to share this all with them and be able to see how proud they really are of me. After all, I've busted my butt for this degree. I was diagnosed with lupus a full year and a half before I started college and even when I got sick I either worked through it or got right back to school as soon as I was well and I kept damn good grades right on through everything. And my dad was right. I do love to learn. I always have and I hopefully always will.
Some parts of the evening were tougher than others. I had to talk (a lot) about what's going on with my health, how I'm feeling, what I've been doing, what drugs I'm on, what comes next. But everyone's concerns were genuine and I got some good perspective and some good advice. My new step-grandfather (I hate all of these step- names by the way, these people have felt like and acted like family from day one, but I'll be damned if I can think of another way to differentiate among the many family members in my life) is also a Temple alum, and was an education major at that. He went on to be a social worked and runs an incredible counseling center, which incidentally is also what my step-mom does, she just got her M.S.W. last year and has just started counseling kids and families. Anyway, he is going to get in touch with some of his contacts at Temple and elsewhere and see if we can't get this little matter of PA Certification cleared up so that I can teach. Which would be awesome.
So lots of food, lots of friends, lots of fun. It was a great night and it ended with a fuzzy headed three-year old (who everyone is amazed by) curled up in my lap, playing with my bracelets, making me feel like the luckiest person on Earth. All in all it was the best evening I've had in a long time.
Today - not so great. We came home last night and I lay down on the couch wishing that there was something that I could do to make every muscle in my body stop aching so badly, but there wasn't and eventually I passed out. My sats kept dipping into the eighties today, so I stayed tethered to the O2 pretty much all day and just rested. But I knew that that was the price I would have to pay and if I had it to do over again, I wouldn't change a thing.
I want as many days like that as I can fit in and hopefully while I'm busy fitting them in, they'll cure these damned autoimmune suckers and I'll be joyously left with one hell of a wonderfully full life.