If a tree falls….

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If a tree falls in the middle of the woods, and there’s no one to hear it, does it make a sound?

Yeah, we’ve all heard it, and all had that moment of “huh?” when we stopped to think about it for 2 seconds. But this epitomizes my life right now.

Last week, I did something that I thought I would never do. I graduated college with a bachelors degree. Now, with the amount of time that I spent in pursuit of said degree, I should be a doctor… maybe even a couple times over. I have friends who are doctors and lawyers by now, and here I am psyched over a BA. Well, HELL YES. I managed it between 4 schools, 4 kids, and 4 duty stations. I stopped going to college when I realized I had no direction. I went back. I stopped when we realized that we couldn’t afford our new baby if I didn’t work. I kept one foot in, taking one class at a time just to keep in practice. We PCS’d, I transferred. I lost credits. I took a final the day before I delivered Chase. We PCS’d, I transferred. I lost more credits. But when we got to flight school, I was done messing around. For the next two years, I went to school full time, 18 hours a semester. I had Brody in the middle of the semester and turned in every assignment on time. Oh yeah, and we PCS’d again… but I didn’t transfer. I didn’t lose credits. And last week, I graduated.

But this wasn’t what I pictured. I figured when (or if) I ever graduated, I would be walking across a stage, clothed in that coveted (by me) black cap and gown, cheered on by my friends, my family, and my husband. My husband. Instead, I finished my last final, made sure I passed (all A’s, of course…), and then watched the clock and counted the seconds as I knew my class was walking at graduation in Troy, Alabama. I did this while clothed in yoga pants and a hoodie, all while changing diapers and doing dishes. No, this was not what I had planned. It’s all… very anticlimactic.

When Jason is gone, my best friend is missing. There’s no witness to our life, no one to cheer accomplishments, or share those hilarious moments that the kids make. The person I most wanted to give me a hug and celebrate with me had to hear I graduated on Skype. Ugh. I felt like that tree had fallen in the middle of the woods, no one had heard, and there was no sound. Just a fallen tree.

I’m not alone here. As army wives, we experience life’s highs and lows, and often those experiences are solo. So what, I graduated college. During our first deployment, one of our good friends had a baby while her husband was gone, and she’s not the only one, either. I remember thinking how she held it together, and that she was stronger than I ever could have been. Even though the guys are gone, our lives are still marching along. We have birthdays, graduations, babies, Christmases, broken limbs, broken cars, and sometimes it feels like broken everything. These events don’t care who’s here to witness it. They just keep marching. There are women all around me who move me with their sheer strength and grace under pressure as I watch them flying solo through these miraculous changes.

So yes, I’m disappointed that what I thought would be some pinnacle felt like it went unnoticed. I’m allowed to have my cranky moments just like everyone else. Now my pity party is over… I promise.

Then, my six-year-old, Aidan, told me how proud he was of me for graduating, and asked if he could spend his birthday money to buy me dinner. Both Aaron and Aidan told their classes at school. How can that not melt you? After all, they are the reason I pushed through. So we ordered in Pizza (yes, I paid…). =)

And then, yesterday, UPS delivered a skinny little package. Jason had called the Troy bookstore from Afghanistan and ordered me a little window cling that said “Trojans – Troy University Alumni.” He had noticed. Even if he wasn’t here, he still managed to be my witness. Now when I look at that sticker, as small as it is, I’m reminded that he’s here with me, even when he’s not.

So yes, I graduated college. Finally. The tree fell in the middle of the woods and no one really heard, but it fell anyway. It made a heck of a lot of noise, even if there was no one around to hear it, or witness the earth-shaking crash. I did my victory dance alone, but that’s okay. I’m getting good at shaking my butt with my arms raised in victory. That just means he’ll have to make it up to me when I finish grad school…. Which I will. =)

3 Comments on “If a tree falls….”

  1. Brooke

    I'm a new reader of your blog. Congratulations on graduating. I understand completely what you mean…I started back to school at the end of a deployment and finished my final project/class two days after my daughter as born….I presented my online assignment while holding her. And no graduation ceremony…just the diploma hanging on my wall and the monthly student loan bills. I think it probably means more to us that have to work a little harder and longer for it.

  2. The Barney Clan

    Congratulations! You are amazing! Your words are encouraging and your actions are inspiring!

  3. April

    This post nearly brought me to tears. I haven't seen writing like this in quite a while. I'm not sure I could have earned a Bachelor's degree while doing all you did. Congratulations on all your accomplishments!

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