Getting Ready

So fellow travelers,  I don’t know what it is about my family, special events and severe weather.


The day before my daughter’s graduation party the weather reports turned serious. High winds, severe thunderstorms and a tornado watch. Tornadoes? Really?  We live in Central New York not the Central Plains.

No matter.  I have been down this trail before, for our oldest daughter’s wedding. Just as I did then, I kicked full gear into “everything is going to be just fine” mode.  The worst of the weather was predicted to blow through the night before. Rain would lessen through the morning, with clear skies even sunshine by the afternoon when the guests would begin arriving for the grad party.

My main concern was the tent. which my husband and my brother-in-law had set up in the back yard.  Granted this was a heavy duty tent, with large, sturdy poles, staked down with impressive thick “guy” ropes.

I am convinced the ropes earned that name because they are the kind of thing guys like to tweak and check often and then point to with the utmost confidence saying things like “This sucker’s not going anywhere anytime soon.” Just the kind of let’s tempt fate statement which requires me to commence ritual chanting of prayers of appeasement to Mother Nature and her whimsical Spirits.

Let the guys tweak those ropes, not to be sexist here, but as party coordinator I had plenty of other details to tweak myself. Hence my second concern: having adequate rain free time to get essential things done. There were signs to hang



balloons to put up



lights and lanterns to string,



candles ( both citronella and festive ) to prepare


All this in addition to setting up the second tent for the food, which being a smaller screen tent had to wait until the morning of the party when the storms had passed, graciously leaving the main tent damp but otherwise untouched. In fact the added greenery of leaves scattered on the roof looked rather festive. By mid morning the sun was shining and so were my spirits.



My daughter had graciously chosen to share her event with a friend whose circumstances would have made hosting a party difficult. There were some logistics which ended up being a little awkward; the other girl didn’t show up until nearly half an hour after the party’s start time, leaving me and my daughter to handle all the final preparations. But as my husband reminded me in the end it didn’t matter since we would have done all this for our daughter anyways. Her friend’s sister made two beautiful watermelon fruit baskets and a delicious mac and cheese which was a huge hit with the girls’ friends, who came and went throughout the afternoon.  The kids sat around the tables laughing, played badminton and volleyball at the far end of our big yard and were appropriately impressed with the power of my husband’s monster stereo system, which allowed our whole neighborhood to enjoy the girls’ selected playlist. Lucky for them we timed the festivity to end well before dusk, to avoid guests needing blood transfusions to survive the onslaught of mosquitoes.

I was busy greeting guests as they arrived, keeping the food table supplied (my buffalo wing dip was in constant restock mode) and making sure my husband as grill master was a round ahead on burgers, so I shot very few photos once the party got rolling. I did have a chance to snap some shots when we served the cake.

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The next morning I woke before dawn. I sensed I would be not falling back asleep even though I had gone to bed completely exhausted the night before. I got up and headed downstairs. As the coffeemaker steamed life sustaining brew into my mug, I lathered on herbal mosquito lotion and gave my perplexed dog a very early breakfast.  While she sniffed the critter trails around the dog yard, I sat by the pond listening to the morning chorus of birds.

I watched as first light began to lighten the sky. It occurred to me I might want my camera, a thought as fleeting as the moths fluttering against the lights still shining in the party tent. I was transfixed by the subtle dance of light as daylight gradually dimmed the brilliance of the tent. Waves of emotion began to wash over me. Tears tumbled down my face. I closed my eyes, listening to the pond’s waterfall. I was filled with simultaneous joy and heartache. One thought kept echoing in my awareness ” I am not ready for this.”

I thought I was.  From the age of about ten or eleven my daughter has done a most excellent job of pushing for her independence.  As a woman I know the strong willed, fierce determination with which she pursues every goal is the fuel which will carry her forward.  As her Mom those same strengths often push my patience beyond some elusive limit I expect myself to have. There have been many, many days since she turned eighteen last March when I have said “I am so ready for her to move out.”  Yet there I sat in tears, the dissonant chords of ” I’m so not ready for this” stretching my heartstrings.  I let the feelings come; I have been here before too, when my other daughter and son-in-law left for the west coast.

No, I am not ready, not yet.

But when the time comes in August to see her set out on her own journey, I know I will be. I will be ready, even with the heartache of letting go because love will guide me there.


Walk gently on the path my friends and may adventure find you ready.



Deborah H Rahalski

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