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©May 2008

Carol Jane Remsburg



Courage in Motion




She’s about to graduate high school in a few weeks.  She has missed every dance during her high school tenure, save one, homecoming two years back with a group of girl friends.  She wasn’t going to sit out another dance or important school function.  Erin wasn’t going to miss her prom. 


Erin had her date selected, papers filled out to allow her college man to attend.  She was thrilled, they were ‘buddies’ even though she felt more for him than friendship.  Yet, logistics were going to be an issue.  He was hours away and had a late, pre-exam class.  Still, from January until mid-April, Erin was going to the prom.  Everything was set.  Until just days before the prom tickets went on sale at the school, she and her date were talking.  He was evasive at best.  She put it to him.  That’s when he said he couldn’t come and it broke her heart. 


Even though Erin had known it was a long shot, there wasn’t anyone else she wanted to be her date for prom.  When tickets went on sale, she bought the very first one, a single.  She was determined not to miss her prom or the memories she’d carry with her into college and then into real life. 


As prom drew closer, we found a better dress, the shoes, booked the appointments for manicure, pedicure, and hair, all from her small savings.  She’d arranged for her cousins to come prep the makeup and send her off in style amid a flurry of snapping cameras, hugs and kisses. 


This is a perfectly ordinary account that happens thousands of times within families across the country.  What makes this different are several points.  This teen has spent years feeling like the ugly duckling, awkward, homely, fat, unworthy.  The ideals in high school invariably are the well-endowed, yet petite, blondes and brunettes.  To her, she met none of the criteria, being statuesque, and a strawberry-blonde, not even what some would consider a redhead, but she is. 


Last summer she worked and saved up to buy a treadmill and it hums daily.  Slowly, things began to change.  The child was never fat, but she felt huge.  Luckily she wasn’t anorexic or bulimic, she loves food, but she needed to be more active.  She didn’t even notice how she DID begin to change, the subtle ones, not even just the weight, she’s a late bloomer and she’s still no where close to the bloom yet to come.


Over the last month, enormous things have happened in her life.  The long put-off driver’s permit was finally gotten on the same day we set up her own bank account.  Then, just days later, a letter was given to Erin offering her full tuition and fees for college when she hadn’t even applied, but her grades have been stellar throughout high school.  She’d earned this through her own hard work.  Suddenly her world was spinning.  Everything was happening at once, right after she secured her summer job as well.


Erin was on the pinnacle, the whole world was before her, just waiting for her to stride through new doors, new adventures, and to fully believe in herself. 


She’s still facing the last few weeks of high school, exams, and graduation.  Last week the final acceptance letter from college arrived, and then it was PROM day.  So much happening nearly every day, it’s overwhelming. 


For years, literally, Erin’s identity has been her hair, kept long enough for her to nearly sit upon.  She’s also hidden behind it.  On this day, prom day, she had at least a foot cut off of it, and felt so naked without it.  However, Miss Mary, transformed Erin’s tresses, who later gushed, “Mom, she made me beautiful.” 


Erin couldn’t figure how what the ‘Do reminded her of, then it came to her; Scarlett O’Hara, the belle of the ball.  Once the makeup and the dress were in place, stepping into her unfamiliar heels, she felt beautiful, simply because there was no denying it.


It was finally time to go after a round of pictures in the backyard, hugs and well wishes.  My Erin didn’t have a limo to take her, nor an escort, just her mom in the pickup.  Once there, the crowds were enormous, it was time to let her go as I snapped off a few more pictures before heading to the auditorium at the college where the prom was being held.


The Grand March at the prom is always optional.  While there were a few others who went to the prom stag, Erin was the only one who opted to walk the stage on her own, head held high and suddenly feeling confident and beautiful. 


I was so busy trying to take pictures with my bulky camera, I never got to see it all.  Erin’s best friend’s mother, Donna, came with her video camera and was able to get that 29 seconds of wonder.  Bless her, those are 29 seconds I treasure.  The camera’s microphone only picked up the closest people to us, yet the crowd ROARED for her, the loudest and longest applause of the night.  There wasn’t a parent of a daughter in the audience who didn’t know just how hard it was to walk alone. 


Erin pulled it off with grace and style.  All of her classmates suddenly saw her in a different light, none of the baggy jeans and over-sized t-shirts or sweats if they ever saw past all the hair at all.  They clamored around her, oohing and ahhing, inviting her to join them.    Suddenly, Erin was sought after, vaunted, and I guarantee you turned many a young man’s head.  Erin just smiled, enjoyed their company briefly, and moved on.  She had one goal now, after a little fun at the actual prom, it was time to share it with the ONE person who mattered most to her, the very one who couldn’t come.


The call came as I was busy at the computer at home reviewing all the pictures I’d taken, working to resize those I liked and was going to keep.  She said,“Come get me, I’m ready.”  It was only 10 PM, but her feet were killing her.  Erin had accomplished her goal, it was time to go.  Besides, she had better, bigger plans for the night, so hoping to WOW him with pix.


It was an hour later by the time her father and I brought her home.  She had already been on her phone to her special one, but just briefly, she wanted to get home so she could go hide and they could talk for the hours they do on Friday and Saturday nights, until like 3 AM.


This night was to be no exception.  This pair talks constantly, IM’s endlessly, and text each other every chance they get.  Their quasi-romance, if you can call it that, is long distance, about a hundred plus miles apart, and that’s when he’s in school, his home is even farther away. 


I stayed up until midnight, working with the photos, sharing them out via email to sundry family and friends.  I was so proud of her, but I didn’t know the torrent of tears that was to come the next morning.  She was crushed when he never commented over how she looked and wanted to ignore her night, wanted to talk about other things. 


What a pair of innocents.  The time they spend together in all forms, is mind-boggling.  If they aren’t gaga over each other, then I don’t know human nature at all.  By the end of Saturday, my most forthright daughter couldn’t take it anymore.  She called him and reminded him how she felt about him and pretty much ripped him a new one over his callous indifference and just what she expected of him, friend or otherwise, and hoping hard for otherwise.  Yet, at this point, she’d vented her anger, she wasn’t pleading for them to be a couple anymore.  It was time for him to take a new look, take stock, and think.


As moms, we are staying out of it.  However, I get MOST of the point-by-point drama, and the tears.  Bless her, my daughter has never learned guile or seduction as is the female wont.  It’s a shame, I was the same way, the only daughter my mother lamented over. 


The outcome of this particular drama is still up in the air.  However, I’m pretty sure how it will come out, and I’m keeping my smiles secret from her for now.  This pair is too afraid of what has already happened, they are so silly.


It’s been a big month already, especially after April.  My baby has finally come into her own and knows she’s not just worthy, but exceptional, intelligent, and beautiful.  Knowing it and feeling it sometimes are worlds apart, these worlds have finally met.  I couldn’t be prouder of her.  I’m blessed and I’m so grateful it’s finally happened.


Life is so amazing sometimes, and worth all the tears.  When the ugly duckling realizes she’s the most beautiful swan of all.


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