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Sunday, November 24, 2013


Graduation started out with everything good the night before.  We all checked into a hotel in Portland and Sandi's parents stayed in with the girls so we could go out for a night on the town.  We went to our favorite restaurant, the Green Elephant vegetarian bistro.  As we sat across from each other swirling our glasses of wine we realized that we were sitting at the exact table in the exact restaurant that we sat out 27 months ago when the two of us went to Portland for Sandi's program orientation.   

Talk about coming full circle.  

The lightness of heart to be on the celebratory end was indescribable.  Then as we were sitting there she got notification that she could register for her boards.  Everything was falling completely into place.

After dinner we walked around relishing the buzz of Portland's night life and headed to Gritty's pub to meet up with a few of Sandi's classmates.  It was fun to hang out with them and hear a bit about their journeys and realize just how much each of them had sacrificed to get to this end.  One married couple (without kids) only saw each other twice in a 2 1/2 month period because the clinical site was 5 hours from her home.  Others had picked up and moved multiple times across state lines to report to rotation sites. It made me so grateful that we had been able to stay in our house, in our community and Sandi was within driving distance of all of her clinical obligations.

I began to wonder what it would look like if we compiled a list of all that these anesthesia students (and their families) had missed or sacrificed to complete this grueling program.  I think it would be a shocking catalog and would probably only serve to depress.

The next morning we hung out in the hotel for the kids' highlights- the in-house breakfast and the pool.  Then it was time to gown up and head to the big event.

While Sandi was doing her graduate thing, we all got seats and I took Maya outside to keep her body and mind busy so she could do the requisite waiting during the ceremony.  We toured the campus and Maya had me take her picture next to anything remotely interesting.

 This was her favorite: a tiny, white dog scratching barking ferociously at her through a car window.
 When we went back inside Maya grabbed a program to check the photo of graduates on the back to make sure Mommy was on there.

Ella, Maya and Makenna checking out the view from the balcony.
A last minute trip to the bathroom found Sandi getting ready to line up.  Oh, so sweet this moment.  Except while she is kissing Maya's cheek she is also telling Maya she best behave during the ceremony.

 Then graduation was underway!  My mom and sister were able to come as well which was especially a treat because Sandi had to obtain more tickets than her alloted 10 to make that happen.

Not everyone was hanging on every word from the podium. 
 When it was Sandi's turn to be hooded, Maya and I went up to the stage to take pictures and Maya was waving frantically at her so, naturally, Sandi had to wave back.

When she came off the stage Maya could hardly contain her excitement.
And she ran to her with arms outstretched.

There was a collective "Awwwww..." from the audience.

Maya examining Sandi's "diploma" which was really a piece of paper saying "congratulations- you will be getting your diploma at a later date."  I think Maya was like, "Hey, all that and you DON'T HAVE YOUR DIPLOMA?!"
 Then it was time for the party! And no one knows how to party like Maya.

 Patti and Dwight were beyond awesome.  They took us down to Portland, helped with the kids, drove us all over and made everything so easy and fun.

We were so happy we could have done cartwheels! Some of us did.
 The after party was dinner at a beautiful place in Freeport where we had our own back room to enjoy.  (A special thanks to Tuscan Bistro for being awesome.)
 And the little girls were able to stand on chairs and watch the man through the window throw pizza dough in the air before it went into the brick oven.  It was the best entertainment to keep them happy!

Thank you to our wonderful families for helping us celebrate this momentous occasion! 
 We got home late, all of us happy and exhausted.  The girls were SO good all day long- there was not a bit of fighting or complaining and Ella begrudgingly stood for pictures without much noise.  Maya was an absolute saint during the graduation itself.

It felt like we had done so much and gone so far in just over 24 hours.  Coming home everything felt amazingly different as though we actually had moved through a rite of passage.

Today has found us all profoundly tired.  But not too tired to have a family tea party in the living room and give out some much deserved graduation gifts!

 Long pajama pants (requested) and a Go Pro camera (a total surprise).
It is not possible to explain how all of this feels.  It is a feeling that has its own weight and form yet it has an indescribable lightness.  It is all shades of emotion blended into one.  

I remember the snowy night in the deep winter of 2011 when Sandi came home after her interview at UNE for this program.  She had driven down and back in a blinding snowstorm and I couldn't help but wonder if it was an omen.  We sat on the couch that night and her eyes were alight with the excitement and possibility this road offered.  I remember her telling me that they tried to scare her as well, telling her that anesthesia school has a very high infidelity and divorce rate among couples, that being a mom and completing this program would be nearly impossible and than many people in her circumstance drop out. 

I thought it sounded awful but I didn't want to stand in her way.  I didn't want to hang on so tightly to what was stable if the future down this road could be so fulfilling for her and, ultimately for our family.  But I was scared.  I was overwhelmed.  I remember about 2 months into the program having a conversation in which I said I truly wasn't sure I could do it all.  Could I change my mind and say no? Turning back seemed unthinkable as did forging ahead.  

We forged.  Sandi had vision and motivation along with her brave heart and brilliant mind.  I drew on my fierce and determined stubbornness and, with the unyielding support of our families, my sister, and my dear friends Ange and Emilie (all of whom without I am certain I would not have survived) I pulled my weight.  

Sandi dealt with endless hours of studying, prolonged hours on her feet in cold operating rooms, strings of nights away from home and her family sleeping in strange beds and eating crap food, profound and unending exhaustion, loneliness, isolation and feeling like she was missing our joyful lives while she secluded herself as she devoted her mind to anesthesia.  Our girls dealt with chronic missing, longing and resentment.  I dealt with the burden of carrying a household and family alone, missing my partner who had almost nothing left at the end of the day and feeling very overwhelmed and lonely as month after month went by hoping against hope that it would in fact all be worth it.

It was. 


When Two Becomes Five said...

Congratulations Sandi and to all of you! A great accomplishment!

Myra K. said...

Congratulations to Sandi for such a great achievement!Congratulations should be given to you, too, for making it through and being a strong pillar of support for your partner and your children. This is a wonderful accomplishment for the both of you!

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