08 June 2011

Looking to Graduation, and a Look Back on Ani

In just two days, my daughter Ani will be graduating with her Bachelors of Science in Nursing from Cal-State L.A.  This is the completion of a huge goal for her in her scholastic career; and it was a health goal for me.  Just a little over five weeks ago, I was treading the uncertain ground of mastectomy, reconstruction....breast cancer.  I had put Ani's graduation in my mind as a goal, and made it my wellness focus, letting everyone -- doctors, nurses, medical office staff, you name it -- know that I needed to be well and present at my daughter's graduation.  And by the grace of God, I am here.

As I sit here in the coolness of my dining room, she is still asleep nestled in the soft cocoon of her bed her crazy hair fluffed out all over her pillow.  It's been a busy quarter for her: putting in her precepting hours at the hospital, organizing the pinning ceremony for her class, finishing up her classes, juggling work at Children's Hospital on weekends, her relationship with her wonderful fiance, family, and being my personal nurse through my breast cancer surgery.

When the nurse first handed her to me, 24 years ago on that May morning in 1987, she looked up all wide-eyed and wet, so sweet and innocent.  I instantly fell in love with my daughter (though I think that started happening when she was in my belly).  But holding her right then and there, still fresh, we understood that this baby had been entrusted to us by God, such a blessing, for us to see through and love and care for.  And I have had the honor of being her mother through these years (and hopefully many more to come).

From a young age, she was crazy creative.  I'd put food coloring in her oatmeal and let her finger paint with her breakfast.  We pierced her ears at one because she kept taking my bangle bracelets and hanging them off her ears as earrings.  At age 3 she'd go through a box of watercolors a week, mixing colors, painting pictures.  She'd pick out her own clothes - wild combinations of colors, scarves, mix/matched shoes.  She'd take a nap in the laundry basket after the warm clothes had come out of the the dryer (hmmm...is this where the cocoon thing started?) Then came the make-believe.  We had the best toy chest in the neighborhood filled with all the costumes I'd sew for her, props from her dad's studio, and finds from mamajan's closet - Belle, Pocahontas, Princess Jasmine, Miss Maral's Arabic dancer, the orange polka dot Flamenco dance dress, the Armenian costume.  And then the packrat stage.  I'd find paper bags, purses, containers all over her room with the most random things: one pen cap, one bandaid, one gum ball.   One paperclip, one head band, one pink Barbie shoe.  (I don't think the packrat stage has truly ended yet.  : )

She has always been headstrong and a quick thinker.  Once, when she was about 3, I remember walking into her room and saying, "Ani, I want this room cleaned up!"  She turned around and sang to me the old Stones song...."You can't always get what you want!"

We went through some tough times too: breast cancer round one when she was six (the hugs from both Ani and my son Nareg helped me make it through); the divorce between Ani's dad and I, high school years with their secrecy and defiance, the "tragic youth" phase.  These were heartbreakers -- I think for both of us.  But we made it through with a lot of love and a lot of prayer.

And then the senior prom, her date that night with Eric, happy times.  High school graduation, college, jobs, the decision to become a nurse.  More goals.  Wedding proposal, engagement party, love, happiness.  Smiles.  Making a decision to work with children, getting offered the student nurse position at Children's Hospital.  School, study, more school...more study.  Getting offered the internship at Children's.  And now, just two days away from graduation, I'm sitting here looking back at all these years that have gone by in the blink of an eye!

We made it!  Ani, you are an amazing young woman.  I'm so proud of you.  I know the next few days will be filled with commotion, people, friends, family, rushing around, cooking.  But I wanted to thank you, for filling my days with love.  For your hugs and "I love you's".  For the countless text messages you send me to let me know you are safe.  For walking miles and miles with me - through the Avon Walk...and through life.  For being the best daughter I could hope for. 

I'll have to set new goals now.  Training for the walk in September, planning a wedding.  Living life, one day at a time, one blessing at a time.  Loving it all!

I have a prayer that I say after Ani leaves for work in the mornings - May God protect and keep you safe.  May you touch the lives of all those children that you help at your job and fill them with God's love - the love that you so abundantly have in your heart to help others - may it flow through you, to them and make their days a little less difficult because of your love and care. Asdvadz hedud, Ani!

May you always walk in God's light and love!!  Congratulations to my ShooShoo!


Jen said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jen said...

Oh Anush, what a wonderful blog. So heartfelt. I can only hope to have such a wonderful relationship with my daughter as she grows. You are Ani are an inspiration to me and what kind of mother I can only hope to be. Love you guys. I am so proud of both of you!

Suzie Shatarevyan said...

So beautiful and touching! I feel the love flowing all around, enveloping us who come within that energy. A mother's prayer for her daughter, and the achievements of a daughter that make us proud. I love you both! Congrats Ani jan!!

Susan M said...

Oh sister, what joyful tears you must have swam through this morning as you shared such tender memories of our Ani. There were so many amazing and wonderful milestones/memories throughout the years & many, many more to come. You are a beautiful mama and you offer many blessings through your loving, creative and compassionate heart. As Ani's God parents, Der Vaz and I couldn't be more proud of all her accomplishments and aspirations. We are with you in spirit for the graduation and looking forward to being together for the pinning ceremony. Congrats to you, all the family and our beautiful Ani.

Bruce Burr said...

all sooo very true... and well said!

Mark B said...

A, Catching up today from your late May entries.
You know that I am the rear one of the two garden monsters, regardless of who might state otherwise... The other looks like a Reese's PB cup that I'll devour soon.
Looks like you have a great path of flora to help you thru your walks, along with whoever might be at your side on any particular day. And a good start to some veggies there at home as well. Here? The wild boars just came in again last night, so various parts of my garden get to begin anew. Such is life, no? Every day we begin anew, even if it's just to get thru old "stuff" that hangs around.
Congrats on Ani of course; has she even been home since last week? I love how the accomplishments of children can mean more to the parents than the child! It all starts on a day so long ago and builds and builds as they grow and you watch them experience and take each step... Try not to burst with pride, it might pop any stitches you have left over.
And remember/realize how proud she must be of you too, all perky and giddy, present at and sharing each of these days that are important to her as well. And how proud and happy all the rest of us are as well.