pomp: n. splendid or magnificent
The heat in the gym was like an uninvited guest. A large, pushy, smothering uninvited guest.
Regardless of my choice to wear capri pants and a sleeveless top, my black gown was sticking to me in all the wrong places.
As my name was called to come forward to assist the graduates, I felt myself rise and waddle to the stage.
I could hear the gasps.
I heard a loudly hushed voice mutter publicly, “that poor woman!”
Sucking my breath in through my nose and standing taller, I tried to look less round, but it was no use.
I was nine months pregnant and stretching that graduation gown taunter than it was ever intended.
I smiled widely at the first row of graduates as they stood and filed toward me.
Taking the first student’s name card, I felt a shiver plunge down my sweaty spine.
circumstance: n. formal display or ceremony
She was smiling at me in a way I had never seen. Her eyebrows were high and she looked like she could take off running.
Running to her future.
As I smoothed her card and turned it right side up, I waited for the cue to pass it to our assistant principal who would begin reading the almost 200 names.
Sweat pooled under my cap, threatening to break free in rivers down my neck and temples.
My feet were so swollen that I had to step out of my flip flops and stand bare-footed on the gym floor. At this point my water could have broke and I probably wouldn’t be able to tell.
But despite the nervous glances by my principal and all the concerned questions from the graduates, my son stayed put.
He stayed put but kicked and partied throughout the ceremony.
And as the names were called and family cheered and sweaty students shook the hands of the administration I realized that in 18 years I would be cheering.
Each of the students belonged to someone. Each graduate started out as a kicking little life in a mother’s womb.
As a graduate gave me a spontaneous hug before hearing his name called, my brain flashed forward 18 years and tears welled up in my eyes.
I quickly snapped out of it, took the next name card, shifted my heavy weight from one swollen foot to the other, and painted on a huge smile.
After all, the class of 2009 was graduating with pomp and circumstance.