It was a day of change.
It was a day of new beginnings.
It was a day of reunion.
It was a day of new found sisterhood.
It was a day where past ill's were washed away.
It was a day of welcome.
It was a day of scenic beauty.
It was a day of tears.
It was a day free of accusation.
It was a day free of crushing guilt.
It was a day of joy.
We arrived in Jennifer's tiny West Virginia hamlet shortly after two p.m., yesterday, even though the graduation wasn't scheduled until seven. This gave all of us plenty of time to spend together before everything got started.
Crystal was radiant. Olivia was thrilled, my dad was proud (but not as proud as his son), and there was a joyous reunion.
Jennifer and I were civil for a few minutes... after which both of us dropped our guards and focused on the happiness of the day, especially when we could see how incredibly important this day was to Olivia and Crystal.
The grownups sat out on the porch on that warm, quiet, perfect afternoon, and chatted about mostly nothing while the girls got to spend time together.
Crystal showed Olivia her room, read to her, played games with her, and the never were never more than two feet away from each other until the graduation ceremony started. My daughters were immediately as thick as thieves, and I could hear them giggling and laughing together through the window. Apparently, something was happening because it got quiet all of a sudden... then they came out of Crystal's room looking guilty! While playing with Crystal's dog, the strap on Olivia's cute little pink dress had gotten broken! No worries, Crystal took a needle and thread to if and sewed it right up.
They went right back to playing together. My daughters had become sisters in more than biology.
After a while, Crystal got around to showing me her room, and I noticed that on her wall, there was an old polaroid picture, (I had a One-Step in those days) that Susan had taken of us, in my tiny Capitol Hill apartment, when Crystal was about 4. She said that she looked at that picture every day. She also showed me a set of my old Marine dog tags. Her mother had given them to her when she found them in an old box. When I was in the corps, we had dog tags in sets of three. two hung around your neck, and one was laced into your bootlaces, lest you get blow to smithreeens and literally lose your head. Well, I have had the third tag on my key chain since I got out of the service in 1989... I never knew where the others were, until now.
Crystal took them apart and gave one to Olivia and said that now, we all had the full set, "three tags, three of us, all together".
What a moment.
The hour was getting late, and everyone changed for graduation. I noticed that Olivia was wearing earrings (clip-on's) as we left the house... Crystal had given them to her (her ears are pierced). Olivia was overjoyed.
We got a quick bite to eat at the local Dairy Queen (the local social center, in the next town), and headed to the High School.
The ceremony was only an hour, mercifully, as it was hot in the un-air conditioned gymnasium.
I got to watch my daughter, my oldest daughter, get her diploma, with her mother, father, paternal grandfather, maternal grandmother, adoptive father, two aunts, an uncle, and a host of friends to cheer her on!
What a night.
Immediately after the ceremony, and pictures, and introductions to friends, we had to get on the road, as it was along drive back home. Although we were invited to spend the night and come to the celebratory barbecue that will be held this afternoon, we couldn't stay.
The girls had thoroughly bonded in that short time, and there were promises of them spending a weekend together in June, and visits from Crystal in July, before she goes off to college in August.
Before we departed, there were hugs and kisses all around.
We had a fast drive home... possibly aided by the fact that I was so happy, I probably could have levitated the car through the high mountains, just on my giddiness alone.
We got home shortly before 1 a.m., with Olivia fast asleep, still wearing her earrings (which she is wearing right now, at 11 a.m., while she watches Shrek in the next room).
PS: Allow me a moment to thank all of you that commented with words of support on my post yesterday. Your words meant a lot to me.