Snapshots by Gloria Freeland - May 13, 2004

Live in the present

Eighteen years ago this month, I was anxiously awaiting Mariya's arrival. When she finally appeared on July 10, 1986, she took her own sweet time getting here. She still takes her own sweet time, a trait that sometimes frustrates me. More often than not, though, I admire the trait because it means that she is moving to her own more-relaxed rhythm.

In May 1986, I didn't know whether she was a Jeremy Blake or a Mariya Beth. If she had been a boy, I wanted her name to be similar to her Dad's. Jerome and I found out I was pregnant only two weeks before a blood vessel burst in his brain. He went into a coma and died five months before Mariya was born. I've always been glad he at least had the happy news that he was going to be a father.

Now Mariya and her classmates have only a few short days before they graduate from high school and begin a new chapter in their lives.

Parents, teachers, family and friends have offered words of wisdom over the course of our seniors' 18 or so years. It has, indeed, "taken a village" to raise them. As we prepare for their graduation day this coming Sunday, more than a few of us are amazed that we have arrived at this point in what seems like the blink of an eye.

All the trite expressions that have ever been spoken or written come to mind:

Make wise choices. Love your family. Be loyal to your friends. Work hard. Be compassionate. Appreciate your heritage. Share with others. Learn something new every day. Take risks once in awhile. Have a good sense of humor. Learn to live with adversity. Have an open mind. Travel if you can, but be happy where you are.

We all hope that we have taught our children well and prepared them for what lies ahead. I even think of advice carried down through the years from those who are no longer with us.

Some wisdom from my Dad: "If you can't say something nice about someone, don't say anything at all," and "Clean your tools and put them away when you're done with them," and "If something's worth doing, it's worth doing right the first time."

From Teddy, whom Mariya loved as her adopted grandma: "Be comfortable in your own skin."

And from Jerome's mother Rita: "There's no such thing as too much love," and a personal favorite, "No toilet seat ever fits your rear like your own."

Several months after Jerome died, Rita, or Mom J as I called her, found a note scribbled in his handwriting inside a book. She wasn't sure when he wrote it, but she found comfort in it and believed it to be his message to all of us.

What the note said was as good advice as any for our graduating seniors.

"Look not toward the past, for it is only a shadow of what has been. Look toward the future, for there the light shines and illuminates the path that we must travel. But most of all, live in the present and realize that with each new day the sun still rises and we still hold the key to life."

Seniors, we love you and are proud of you.

Mariya's senior picture.

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