Summa cum laude.

By now, I suppose it’s okay to say that I know a thing or two about marriage. I can at least say I know a thing or two about being married to Mike. Like many people, I was woefully underprepared for marriage, and I look back at the blur of those first few years and see how much we still needed to figure out. And we still need to figure things out, of course, but, in many ways, our life together has slipped into a comfortable rhythm. I tend to resist the terminology of “other half” or “two halves of a whole” because I think that both Mike and I are complete individuals. It’s more that . . . together, we make up something greater than we would be by ourselves. We have individual opinions and interests, and yet our lives are also inextricably entwined. It’s the difference between asking for permission to do something and running things past the person who will be most affected by my actions and decisions, I suppose. A small difference, but a significant one.

When we got married, I did not know how I would come to depend on him, how well I would learn to read his facial expressions and moods. And I did not know how personal his successes would be for me. Sure, I teased him when he made 101 on an exam after freaking out about it, I gave him a hard time about making A pluses, but I knew a little bit about what it meant to him. I was and still am incredibly proud of all of his hard work.

And now his graduation is upon us, and I am overwhelmed at how . . . overwhelmed I feel. He is graduating with a 4.0, and I think I am more excited about his accomplishments than I am about anything I have ever done. We have sacrificed a lot these four years, and Mike made sure that it was not wasted. He did not take this opportunity for granted. It took more courage than I knew at the time for him to walk away from his career and go back to school. I get nervous calling people I don’t know on the phone, but Mike walked away from a way of life he knew in order to better himself. It’s one of the things I most admire about him.

The way I feel about Mike’s graduation reminds me a little bit of the way my dad always responded to my own victories and successes. When my brother and I graduated as valedictorians of our respective high school classes, my dad was so proud and excited. He was the same when we both graduated from college and when I got my Master’s degree. I think I have an idea of how he felt. And I know that he was proud of Mike for going back to school. I know he would be proud of the awesome job that Mike has lined up. (He has a job, y’all! A real job with real benefits and a real paycheck! Teaching real children!) I know he wanted to be here for this.

I have a tiny little habit of making everything about myself. Perhaps you have noticed. And, in a way, I do feel that these are our accomplishments, the things that we achieved because we worked together and made them happen. But I also know that Mike deserves every single accolade that he has earned, by himself, in a way that was very separate from me. He did all the work. And he deserves to be celebrated.

Posting this week might be a little bit sparse (what with the graduating and the partying and all), so I want to say it now: Happy Graduation, Mike. We are all so proud of you.

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