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My Marine Home for Graduation
No one ever told me how graduation would be. My heart was pounding with excitement just as much as it was pounding with apprehension. There was a battle going on between the two sides, and I didn’t know if I should feel happy about the future or nervous.
I knew what I was going to do this summer, but past that my future was still undecided. College was the last thing on my mind, because the only thing I was worried about was the first week of August.
He was going to be coming home then, but I desperately wanted him here now. He wasn’t able to attend my graduation, and just the thought had sadness creeping into my emotional state. I hated that he couldn’t be here, but I forced myself not to think about him. I promised him I would try to enjoy this. It would have been easy if graduation didn’t mean that much to me, but it marked the beginning to my new life out of high school.
I was beginning to dread having to go through with the whole thing, but before my emotions could get the better of me, my thoughts were interrupted by the sound of a familiar tune. The Pomp and Circumstance stimulated my heart into a fit of nervous flutters that made me jittery. I had to move something so I ran my hands down my purple robe almost as if I was trying to get the unseen wrinkles out. I adjusted my hat one last time over my blonde hair, and looked toward the doors to our school gym.
I took a deep breath to try to calm my nerves but as the person in front of me walked forward, I felt myself growing even more anxious. I almost couldn’t walk for a moment, but I pushed through the nervousness and started walking.
I walked through the double doors into the vast room while the familiar graduation song filled the echo chamber. I walked to my seat without glancing anywhere other than where I would have to be, and before I knew it, I was standing in front of my chair, waiting for everything to get over.
I was in a weird state of mind as the rest of our small class filed in, once everyone was in the room the pomp and circumstance stopped, and we started the National Anthem. I was just fine on the crying part of my graduation, but when I saw the uniformed soldiers bring out the American flag, I nearly shed a tear.
I told myself that morning I wasn’t going to think about him, but it was inevitable. The him I’m talking about is my Marine boyfriend who was deployed to Iraq five months ago. I had sent him an email that morning telling him that I missed him, but all night I had tossed and turned hoping and praying that he would some how be able to come. That was all I wanted more than any thing.
I didn’t care for the diploma or the accomplishment of finally finishing high school—I only cared about seeing him again.
I felt the tears prick at my eye as I sang along to the National Anthem, but I was able to hold the tears back through out the entire song. Once it was over, we took our seats, and I tried to distract my mind by looking around the gym for my family.
I looked around the bleachers for familiar faces, and it didn’t take me long to finally spot them. All of my family was their except for my mom and my Marine. Having a small class like ours we were able to request if we wanted someone special to hand us our diplomas, and since my mom had seen me through my high school years, I chose her.
The ceremony began with a speech by our principal followed by another one written by a fellow student, but I couldn’t find myself wanting to pay attention. Yet again, I was thinking about my Marine and how he was doing over in Iraq. He was always a constant in my mind after he left, but today of all days was one where I literally felt my heart aching to be near him.
I could picture him in his blue dress uniform even though right now he was probably dressed in sand colored camouflage. I wondered what he would be doing at this time since it was around nine at night in their time. Since it was so late, I was hoping he would be safe within the base, but I couldn’t be for sure. For all I knew, he was reading my email that told him how much I wanted him to be with me.
I looked toward the flag bearers and thought about, which wars they were probably in. According to how old they looked, I would recon they probably lived through the Cold War and even the Vietnam War. Looking at them I couldn’t help but feel a little curious about their relationships and if they were still with their significant other even through a war.
I stopped trekking down that train of thought before I put my heart further into a gutter. I knew my Marine and I were going to be just fine. I already learned to love him with his military mind set because I met him while he was going to boot camp. I knew that even after he came back from Iraq I would still love him with all my heart. I started relishing in the past events I spent with him while they started to call names to hand out diplomas.
I found that thinking about him calmed my nerves, but when my row was called to stand up, I started to feel my nerves crawl back up on me. I watched my fellow students head toward the podium, but it wasn’t until a bullhorn pulled me out of my thoughts that I started to really pay attention. The bullhorn was for the person in front of me, and I smiled toward her before she went to accept her diploma. My heart sank to my feet at the same time my nerves went to a fever pitch while I waited patiently for my name to be called.
I nearly froze for a moment, but I knew I would just embarrass myself if I just stopped there so I gathered my wits and stuck out my first foot. My first step was followed by another until I was making my way toward the podium where I could see my mom standing on the other side with my diploma in her hand. I felt an emotional overload then and was glad someone was there to help me up the small steps so I wouldn’t trip with my high heels.
I could feel myself shaking when my mom started to head up the steps, but just before she could make it to the first step someone intercepted her. I had caught the blue out of the corner of my eye, but when my eyes scanned up the Marine uniform to his smiling face, I nearly had a heart attack.
Could it be him?
He took the diploma from my mother’s hands and for a long moment, I couldn’t even breathe. My heart reacted for the needed air or just from his presence in general, but seeing him standing there made my emotions run a muck. As he stepped onto the podium with his grand smile, I felt myself shaking even worse than before.
How did he get here?
I had asked him countless times to somehow get to my graduation, but he always told me it wasn’t possible.
He obviously lied.
My Marine was standing there, just in front of me, with his hand outstretched. I stared at his hand trying to wake myself up, but this wasn’t a dream. For once, I wasn’t dreaming, and he was actually here. Every part of my being shouted at me to hug him, but I couldn’t until after I accepted the diploma he was offering me.
I felt the tears bead my eyes as I took a breath, and when I reached my hand out to grab the rolled up piece of parchment tied with a red ribbon, I felt one tear make a track down my face. When I grabbed onto his hand to shake another tear fell from my other way, and I wanted more than anything to rub them away, but my hands were occupied. I tried to pull my hand away, but instead of releasing me, my Marine pulled me into the embrace that I wanted.
I didn’t ever want to let him go, but knowing that I was making a huge scene on stage I reluctantly pulled away. I tried to rush off stage after I pulled away, but he stopped me.
“Wait there’s more.”
I was confused by his words, but when he went down on one knee the world slid away just as the blood drained from my face. It didn’t take a rocket scientist to know what the position meant, and when I saw him pull out a gold ring, it took all my strength to keep my legs solid underneath me.
“Rebecca Donaldson.” He grabbed my left hand. “Will you marry me?”
I felt a rock tie itself around my vocal chords, and it felt like swallowing dry air when I tried to wet my parched tongue. I already knew what I was going to say since we had discussed our marriage over email so many times, but this was an impact that stunned me. The deluge of emotions that nearly overcame me nearly forced me to the ground. It was only when I opened my eyes to answer him that I noticed tears were falling down my face at a steady pace.
“Yes.” I answered not because I felt pressured to, but because I wanted to. His boyish grin turned into the all out smile I had fallen in love with. He slid the finger onto my finger just as the audience erupted into cheers. The choking sobs came then and my Marine once more took me into an embrace.
I had been confused about what my future was going to look like, but with my Marine beside me, I didn’t care. That day I had graduated, and in the same moment, taken the first leap into the future.