Sunday, October 3, 2010


com·mence·ment   /kəˈmɛnsmənt/
1. an act or instance of commencing; beginning: the commencement of hostilities.
2. the ceremony of conferring degrees or granting diplomas at the end of the academic year.
3. the day on which this ceremony takes place.

So we were all supposed to meet at the iconic clock in Grand Central Terminal. The plan was to meet up there and then hop the train over to MSG. I had loaded my Metrocard a couple of days before knowing that not everyone would have one; I figured it was the least I could do.
Once I surfaced from the bowels of Grand Central, I hurriedly made my way over to the clock, only to find my mother-in-law already there, dressed from head to toe in her full-length mink coat. She had pearls around her neck and a nervous smile plastered across her face. I took her inventory and then a deep, deep breath. There is no way to explain how I felt just then, but the fact that she looked as if she were going out for a New Year's night on the town assaulted me; I couldn't believe that she didn't think twice before stepping out the door. Believe me when I say that I fully understood that it was her son's Big Day...but I also understood that most of the people in that venue would be wearing jeans, and that all of the police officers would be soon worrying themselves over their meager $25,000 a year salaries.
The friends joined us within minutes and we were off. I led the way towards the subway, feeling as if I was the only one who had any city savvy. This thought was confirmed when my mother-in-law played the role of tourist, her mouth gaping wide open as we exited the subway on the heart of the West side.
"Oh LOOK! It's Macy's!" She exclaimed, as I shook my head behind her. This woman had grown up most of her life in the Bronx before moving to the sixth Borough.
I chose to distance myself from her exclamations as we made our way toward MSG. There was a buzz building around me: the Marquee outside proclaimed Congratulations to the NYPD Graduates and the people were all moving in the same direction. We made our way in and filed into our seats. I chose to sit at the very end, my emotions peaking, my heart beating out of my chest.
I had my eyes trained on the crowd, knowing I would probably not be able to single out Roc, but trying to find him anyway. At the first strains of the music, I began to cry, and the tears flowed silently down my cheeks for the entire rest of the ceremony. My whole body went hot, then cold, as they talked about what an accomplishment the officers had achieved. When the Commissioner thanked the families that supported the graduates, I burst hysterical crying into tears. So many of Roc's friends wanted to comfort me, but I wanted to be inside myself and take mental pictures where I stood; I am still incredibly grateful to this day for Roc's friend Kyle who took a thousand shots of the event. I was too overwrought to focus a camera, and I needed to simply absorb each moment. I swiped at tears that kept on coming and prayed to God to keep my husband safe. When they finally came to the moment where the white gloves flew in the air and New York, New York blasted through the sound system, I felt my heart connect to Roc's, and I knew that we had done it. Together.
He did it, but I knew---even if no one else did---that I had gotten him there. I let out a slow, deep breath, knowing that this ending was just the beginning.


  1. It reminds me, in many ways, of my own commencement, in another big city, almost 14 years ago. Combine that with your description of the setting in NYC, and I can picture it unfolding like I was there. There's a lot of pride in being a cop, but I bet there's something special to wear that NYPD uniform for the first time.

  2. So he says...I can tell you that it was nice to see the pride in his eyes and the weight lifted off his shoulders...he looked great that day; the dress blues and a spring in his step.
    :)SCW Stella


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