I am sitting within a sea of people, all gathered for the same purpose, to watch their children step from one level in life to the next. There are 130 kids. I recognize 1. My own. ONE. Only one. I watch all of these people laughing and whispering to each other, talk, talk, talking.

"Your boy has grown so big, I remember when he was in Kindergarten!" "Stacy has done so well this year, Mrs. Smith has done wonders with her!" "How is your sister doing?" "Let's go grab a coffee after the ceremony, what do you think?"

Busy babble surrounds me and I am quiet. I know not one of these people. They know not me. There is no connection. I know not one of their children, not anybody they know. Nothing. This community is happening around me, I watch through a window strangers, paper cutouts from a magazine having no dimension, flat. I hover around the edges lost. Hoots and applause as each child comes forward from many who know that child. A cacophony of unrecognizable sound. I don't know, they are strange, they are not who I know.

I knew everyone in his old school, they all knew me. I helped raise many. I was their girlscout leader, their cubscout helper, their soccer coach, their safe haven when their parents weren't home. I was in the middle of things. I knew most of the parents, they all knew me, we talk, talk, talked about everything and nothing. About daffodils blooming, clouds changing shapes, the nasty hurricane brewing and the dreadful drainage problems. About tuning lawnmowers and "here, I'll give you some of my Irises, they are taking up so much space, please, I insist" and "Come over and take some blueberries before the birds eat them all" and anything and everything. warm smiles of recognition. light taps on the horn to capture attention for a wave hello as I walked by. community.

And the teacher here says how hard it is for her, how hard it is to say goodbye to these kids who have become like her own. That we can not understand what it is like for a teacher who puts so much of her heart into the community of her class... and I cry and I cry and I cry and I can't stop crying.

"NO!", he grabs the photo ripping it into a thousand pieces before tossing it in the trash. "No, no more pictures like that." An eye, a wet trail on a dry cheek. "You are not to be sad. I don't want to see that again. Ever."

He does not understand opposite sides of a coin. Can't have one without some of the other. Tears must be shed to make room for the laughter.

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