When I first got sober, I used to worry about how I would deal with a champagne toast at my daughter’s wedding. Of course, that will be years from now, but hey, why not worry about things now right? What I didn’t think about was toasting other major occasions, like her high school graduation, which was this past week. And I almost got through it without having to think about it at all. Almost.
It was a beautiful ceremony. I was so happy to be there with my whole family, including my parents. My daughter graduated summa cum laude and I was so proud of her. I beamed as I watched her cross the stage to receive her diploma in her cap and gown and hood in bright school colors. For a few seconds, I thought about the fact that if I were still drinking, I’d probably be miserably hungover for this milestone in her life. Either that or I’d be just plain drunk.
The thought of drinking to celebrate her graduation now had never even occurred to me. We went out for a celebratory lunch immediately after graduation. Water and a cappuccino suited me just fine. At the end of lunch, as desserts came out, the manager of the restaurant approached our table with a bottle of champagne in one hand and several glasses held between the fingers of the other. It was a lovely gesture. He put the glass in front of me and then the other adults at the table. He spoke to my father a bit as he worked to loosen the cork from the bottle. As it finally gave way with a loud pop, he approached my seat to pour the light gold liquid into my glass. It was easier than I had ever anticipated to simply say “thank you but I’m not having any.”
The world didn’t come to an end. Everyone didn’t freeze mid-sentence and stare at me in an awkward silence. The manager didn’t drop his jaw in shock at the fact that I had refused his kind offering. No, no one really cared that I turned down a glass of champagne. Most importantly, I didn’t care. I didn’t miss it. I didn’t pout. I enjoyed being present and able to celebrate a special day knowing I would remember it in the future and wake up without a hangover.
My son graduates from elementary school next week. Sparkling cider all around.
Congratulations to all the graduates out there, especially two very dear to me.
“The more you praise and celebrate your life, the more there is in life to celebrate.”–Oprah Winfrey