Graduation is definitely a closing of a chapter in one's novel of life. However, a new chapter always closely follows.
What a wild weekend it was in Portland. My husband, youngest two daughters and I flew up to Portland on Thursday morning to begin the big weekend with Ali. I had been anticipating the emotions that we'd all be going through during this time; excitement for Ali beginning a new life as a college graduate-"sadness" for Ali leaving our protective arms and adventuring out on a life of her own. I can't believe Ali's four years at the University of Portland have gone by so quickly, with so much "life" packed into those years. During her time at UP she was on the Speech and Debate team, was an RA, went through the process to become a Catholic, and spent four years working in the classrooms of middle schools and high schools. It seems that our trips to UP have come full circle. It was in April of 2003 that my husband, my mom and I went with Ali to investigate where our first baby would begin her college career. It was so great that my mom was able to make it to the graduation to be with her oldest grandchild and the first one to graduate from the college we all fell in love with!
As with all milestones like this, the feelings were bitter-sweet. Naturally, Ali is ecstatic to have a college degree-the first of many, according to her :). However, knowing it may be years before she sees some of her friends again (if ever) is a difficult thing. Living on campus is such a unique experience. Bonding so closely with so many people who aren't your family is something that doesn't happen to everyone. It was also bitter-sweet for our family because my father-in-law passed away last year before he was able to realize his dream of having a grandchild graduate college. He would have been very proud of Ali-I know his spirit drives her and she feels her grandpa's love of education and knowledge. It was great to see "Gramps" on the top of her decorated cap.
When we sent Ali to Portland we knew she'd find lots of friends, but we had no idea that we would also make such great friends. We've become very close to the family of Ali's college best friend. A big thanks to Katie and the rest of the Klenas for always putting up with the Browns when we blast into town! :) I would also like to make sure that Bob and Pat know how much we TRULY appreciate taking Ali into their home and their hearts. Knowing that Ali has been with a family who love her, when she couldn't be with us, makes us feel very safe.
We are so blessed to have such wonderful friends who have supported our daughter. Our dear friends, Misty and Pat drove to Portland from Lincoln (along with Kenzie and Carson), just to share this time with our family. What amazing friends they are!!
Needless to say, we had a wonderful time enjoying the festivities of the weekend (including our 23rd wedding anniversary on Saturday-thanks to my hubby for the diamond earrings). The weekend would not have been complete without a trip to Papa Haydn's--the most amazing desserts I've ever had!
Ali, you have made your parents very proud. You are sensitive, giving, warm and an amazing human being. You should be very gratified with your two degrees and all the work that went into them. We also have three "adopted daughters" who we are proud of as well-Katie, Nicole and Claire--we LOVE you all!!!
Take a look at the slideshow from this weekend as well as a few other photos of Ali's journey (I've used the song many times for other slideshows, but I think it's PERFECT in relation to the time spent at college and the lifelong friends that are made).