Chris gets a New Coat

on 19 August 2016

So at the start of every school year, the new crop of med students participates in what's known as a White Coat Ceremony.  They go up on a stage, group by group, and they are presented with their White Coat, the outward symbol that they're a med student.  It's a really cool ceremony, actually, because it celebrates their potential.  And it's a time for family and friends to gather and cheer on their med student.

So last year (that would be August 2014, if you're having trouble keeping up), Chris had read about it and thought it was the coolest thing ever.  So when he found out that he'd been accepted, he called his parents to invite them up and told them that this was a big deal and he would really appreciate it if they could be there.  As it turned out, his Mom was traveling that weekend and couldn't be there, and his Dad was non-committal.  So I braced him up as best I could and promised that the kids and I would be there with bells on to cheer him on.

So a week before the ceremony, his sister and I were texting back and forth and she asked when the ceremony was and for more information generally, so I gave it to her, but thought nothing else.  I just figured that she would call or text the day of, because she's very thoughtful that way.    A few days after this exchange (Wednesday before the ceremony to be precise) she called me and said that she and Dad (and maybe Chris's brothers) wanted to try to come up on Sunday, but wanted it kept as a surprise just in case they couldn't make it, so would I help them?  And I said, "Heck yeah, and nothing easier since Chris is never around!"  So we started plotting.

I planned a BIG family dinner for Sunday, to celebrate Christopher (of course), we made  a traditional NC barbecue and all the sides.  Chris said, "Isn't this kind of a lot of food?"  To which I replied, "It's a lot of people, and also shut up, it's delicious."  He had no argument for that.  I sent his sister details on when to show up and where to park and made sure that we would park in the same parking deck so that Chris could see his family BEFORE the ceremony.

So the day arrives and he and I are both a jumble of nerves, though for very different reasons.  We left Church a bit early so that we could make it to the ceremony on time.  At the last minute, Chris decided that we would drive together and then, THEN he tried to change where we were going to park.  And to that I refused in Diva like fashion.  He looked at me funny, but then headed for the parking deck.

As we drove up the road towards the deck, I looked up and saw his family (all but his Mom) standing on the second level watching for us and I pointed them out and said, "Who are those crazy people?"  He glanced up and said, "I don't know...WAIT!  WHAT?!"  And I started to laugh because the look on his face was PRICELESS and then he started to tear up and laugh all at the same time and he said, "Did you do this?!"  And I said, "Your sister and I make a MAD team!"  He was so touched that they drove all the way up here just to be with him to celebrate.

There were hugs all around and exclamations and lots of pounding on the backs and the kids were squealing with delight and jumping up and down because they got to see Paw-Paw AND Jenji AND Mike and Rusty AND Daddy all in the same wonderful day!  My father in law was thoroughly impressed with my secret keeping skills and Chris really was knocked off his feet.  I don't think I stopped grinning until we got our seats and got settled.

At which point Maggie decided that she had had ENOUGH.  Enough of dresses, enough being quiet, enough sitting still, enough not napping, enough enough ENOUGH.  So I took her out and tried to nurse her to quiet her down and tried to rock her and cuddle her, and she would calm down for a few minutes.  Long enough for us to go inside and see where they were in the program, and then it was more screaming and more out in the hallway.  I went back and forth with her until it was time for Chris's group to go up.

Then I handed her off to Mike and I took the big kids down to edge of the mezzanine to see their Daddy.  (Lilu had been crying for him basically since we sat down.  I think she thought he'd be sitting with us.)  So they saw him walk onto the stage and Lilu chirps up, "Hi Daddy!"  And I started to giggle because (of course) it echoed through the whole theater!  So then they call student by student and one of the faculty puts the coat on the student, and Chris was the second one, so they call his name and both kids shout "YAY DADDY!!"  And the whole theater erupts in cheers and applause, and that right there is where I lost it and started to cry and cry.

Because here's the thing.  Chris has wanted to be a doctor his whole life.  It's the only thing he's ever really wanted to do.  And not because he likes the lifestyle or wants to show off and drive a fancy car or anything, but because he likes to help people.  And when he didn't get in (years ago, when we were fresh out of undergrad), we talked about different career paths where he could still help people, but it just wasn't what he really wanted to do.  He tried different paths and different jobs, but he was never happy, and I think it was because he only ever wanted to be a doctor.  And here he was, getting his white coat at long last.  He had worked so hard and here was his dream of what he wanted to do and to be and he had made that happen.  I could not have been prouder of him than I was in that moment.

(Oh, and when I turned around to take the big kids back to their seats, Maggie was sound asleep on Uncle Mike's shoulder.  I should have handed her off an hour ago!)

So we sat through the rest of the ceremony, and then joined the masses to try to find Christopher.  We met up and went to shake hands with a few faculty members, and everywhere we went, Chris was greeted with cries of "YAY DADDY!"  by his classmates.  It was sweet and endearing and so many people told us what a great moment it was.  And it was a great moment, but for more reasons than just the kids.

We took some pictures (Jenn's turned out MUCH better than mine), and then headed back to the house where we were met by my parents and Sherry and Jeff and my nephew Joshua.  We ate and talked and laughed and had a wonderful time together.  And Chris looked at me and said, "This is why you made so much food!"  And I said, "Yes!"  He was still completely surprised and it was thoroughly fun to tell the story over and over and over again.

(BIG thanks to Jenn for taking such great pictures!)