01 April 2014


I flew home last weekend to see Mon graduate from high school.

I have so many hopes for my youngest brother as he gets ready for college and so many fears, too.

He never did get grades as high as mine at school, but his social skills are lightyears ahead of mine — he'll be high-fiving the school janitors one day and walking the GM's daughter home another. He's handled a breakup with a maturity I didn't gain until much later. He's witty, which means he's smart; he speaks well, he's learned to cook much sooner than I did, and the girls and the boys all seem to love him. I think this will do more for him and his future than his report cards ever will.

And yet, all this is why I'm a little afraid. I mean, you remember being 16 or 17 and feeling bigger and stronger than anything, and you remember the times life proved you wrong afterward. You always look back on them with bittersweet gratitude — thanks to that, I know better, but shit! if that didn't hurt.

I played photographer at the ceremony last Friday, and this is my favorite shot of Mon. He's just received his diploma and is confidently walking forward to take a bow. This is the boy who wants to do both college and culinary school and who says the college thing he looks most forward to is meeting new people. He wears T-shirts with Bible verses on them to church and helps man the sound booth. He loves pizza and video games. His drum skills are killer.

Of course, in entries like these, I'm expected to tell you that this is also the boy whose stroller I used to push, or that I was the first person to see him sit up by himself (it was in his crib, and he was wearing a blue-and-green striped shirt). But I decided to stop addressing him as Momon a year or so ago; today, I'm talking about Mon. I'm long past waxing nostalgic about the little boy he used to be and more interested in the young man he's becoming.

All I want is some kind of assurance — and all I can ever really hope for is — that he'll always have a reason to smile the way he does in this picture.

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