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I graduated from Pepperdine in May of 2005. My dad flew down from Portland and neither one of us had cell phones at the time. After the ceremony, I panicked for a few minutes because I had no idea how I was going to find him in the huge mass of people.

I saw him before he saw me. He was standing- with a slightly stooped posture… looking around… looking confused. He was looking for me- a lei draped from his hand. It struck me for the first time that he looked old. And maybe I’m projecting this, but I think I had a brief thought about how awful it would be when he died.

I’ll graduate with my master’s degree from CSUN on Monday. My mom is flying down to see me. My dad’s absence is going to be felt. I feel it now and it’s heavy. I had a dad for most of the five years it took me to get this degree. He paid for some of the textbooks and the computer I did most of my schoolwork on–the one I’m writing this blog post with now. He had told me he was proud of me. I can hear him telling me how impressive it is that I’m a “master” at something… Like when my passport came in the mail before my trip to Spain in college, he called me “the world traveler” for a week. Walking across the stage without my biggest fan is going to be painful. And although I will be opening the door to much bigger and better things, closing the door on this stage of my life is going to be painful too.