Arriving at the Buffalo airport nice and early for the Boston flight. Finding that the delay will be one hour and ten minutes. Just enough time to make me late for the graduation processional at U. Mass. Sucking in the disappointment. Drinking too much coffee, anxiety spreading to a wrinkle in the forehead. Taking off ... landing ... fifteen minutes to make it. Find a taxi and ask quietly, "University of Massachusetts please." Step inside and then repeat what I said for fear the driver did not hear me the first time. He is a large man, angry scowling face. Turns to me and starts to yell, "I heard you the first time! I know where to go! University of Massachusetts! Graduation there. I know, I know! For God's sake!" I retreat trying to sink into the back seat further and further, tears start rolling down my cheeks as I fumble for sunglasses. "So sorry," almost a whisper from me. Tension from disappointment of delayed flights, anxiety and wanting to see my son, accumulate and rise up like an ocean wave and I weep softly into the side window, staring through the sunglasses at the gray, cold, dismal weather. Driver looks into his rear-view mirror at me, face scowling and I try to become invisible, be as quiet as I can, pushing back the tears, thinking, "Soon I will be there. Everything is okay ..."
We arrive and the taxi driver has a softened tone now. Retrieve my bag, pay the fee and rush onto the lawn. Processional missed but only by five minutes or so. I'm given a seat in the back but can see the large screens. Open the cell-phone and call Gilad. "Where are you?" he asks. "I'm here," I say excitedly. "At the back. But I can see everything. I'm here. I'm here!" "Great," he replies.
I see everything, hear all. Honorary doctorates for Sylvia Poggioli and Barack Obama. Obama tells graduating students to develop empathy and learn to walk in another person's shoes. I think of the taxi driver and what a bad day he must have been having. I smile through tears of insight and inspiration from Barack Obama's deep, magnificent voice and shared story.
"I'm here, Gilad," I think to myself and smile as it starts to rain.