Graduation Day: A Celebration And Sad Reminder

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Beverly Hills High School, Graduation Day 2015

If you’re someone like me who tried to have kids and couldn’t, there are times in life that can be sad reminders. For most child-free women, it’s probably Mother’s Day: an emotionally tough day for those of us who will never have children of our own to celebrate us.

I can get through Mother’s Day because I still have my mom to celebrate. The brunches and lunches, activities and outings, keep my mind off anything remotely self-pitying. Since I’m her only child, I make sure the day is filled with love and distractions galore.

No, the day that absolutely kills me is Graduation Day. That’s the day I really feel my childlessness.

For several years, I’ve lived within walking distance to my high school, which means for several years I’ve also been within earshot of graduation rehearsal and ceremonies. Every June the entire neighborhood is treated to the sounds of a booming P.A. system, soaring music, lofty commencement speeches, and the long reading of student graduate names.

It’s lovely and joyful, and depressing as hell. So much so that I have to hide out at the local Starbucks until it’s over.

You see, every time I hear the strains of Pomp and Circumstance coming from the front lawn of my high school, my heartstrings pull, and I’m painfully reminded of the kids I forgot to have. Well, maybe not “forgot,” more like waited too long to have. Those opening notes aren’t music to my ears; they’re tones of regret and shame for not taking my biological clock more seriously.

I spoke about this several months ago in a blog post entitled “Oh My God, I Forgot To Have A Baby!” If you missed it, here’s a recap of what I went through to get pregnant:

Six IUIs with donor sperm, three rounds of IVF, two embryo transfers using donor eggs, and lots of timed intercourse with a boyfriend who tried, but couldn’t knock me up. I got started at 43, and ended my quest four years later with no money, eggs, or time left on the clock. Game over.

But once the post game pity party was over, I started healing. Onwards! I said to myself. Even though I was single, I still had other worthy pursuits to keep my life full: a busy career, an active social life, and good friends and family. Then, three years after saying goodbye to motherhood, I said hello to marriage. Getting married for the first time at 50 not only gave my life unexpected dimension and purpose, it helped me ease the pain.

I continue to work hard to make peace with my past, and bring closure to that chapter of my life. It’s not easy sometimes, but I do my best to take the long view; to gracefully accept what was, and appreciate what is now.

It’s true what they say about one door closing and another one opening: you find opportunity. It may not look like what you planned or wanted, but hey, it’s an open door, so why not walk through it?

Not long after the baby door closed, the volunteering door swung wide open. I walked through it, and guess what? I found opportunity – to give of myself and be of service to others.

Last year, I joined my husband Robby as a Special Olympics coach (he’s been coaching for 30 years); and after a several year hiatus, I rejoined the Fulfillment Fund mentoring organization to become a mentor to a 14-year-old girl named Melissa.

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Global Education Academy, Graduation Day 2015

Already, my mentee Melissa and I have established a unique relationship. We talk, we bond, we teach each other things and learn about the world together. I like to think we both have a bright future ahead of us.

You want unexpected dimension and purpose to your life? Try volunteering. It’s THE greatest thing you can do, especially if you don’t have kids of your own.

Last week, I attended Melissa’s eighth grade graduation from Global Education Academy, a bilingual school located in South Central Los Angeles. It had everything you’d expect in a graduation: a booming P.A. system, soaring music, lofty commencement speeches, and a long reading of student graduates.

Come to think of it, it was just like a Beverly High graduation, but much better.

Because when I heard the strains of Pomp and Circumstance, and saw the processional of young students in their cap and gowns, it pulled at my heartstrings in a lovely and joyful way that didn’t have me running to the nearest Starbucks.

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Melissa the graduate with her proud mentor.

Graduation Day is no longer a sad reminder of my past, but a celebration of everything yet to come.

My Vows: A Dream Writing Assignment

Treva Brandon and Robby Scharf WeddingFinally getting the chance to write my marriage vows was more than just this bride’s dream come true. It was this freelance writer’s finest hour.

The dream assignment that had previously been out of reach for so many years, was now mine. I had waited patiently and worked tirelessly, but I finally got the job. Without delay, I immediately put pen to paper and began crafting my vows. God knows I had a lot to say.

Truth is, I’ve been writing my vows in my mind for 50 years so I already knew what they were going to include: expressions of my love and affection, my hopes for marital bliss, and tons of heartfelt promises and praise for my future husband. My vows would also be tear-jerking and knee-slapping all at the same time.

All I would need was the right guy and a mic, and I’d be good to go. I got both: Robby Scharf and a great Sennheiser microphone (P.S. Robby works for Sennheiser so I got the package deal).

That’s right, not only did I finally get to write my marriage vows, I got to read them aloud too! What a gig!

My vows weren’t fancy or flowery; they were just a 439-word count of my love and delivered right on time – just like a good freelancer.

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MY VOWS

“As a writer, I’ve written all kinds of things: from copy to content, branding to blogging, but I’ve never written marriage vows – a dream assignment I’ve waited a lifetime for.

And the most wonderful part of this assignment is that I get to write about an amazing product: Robby Scharf.

When I first met Robby, I knew I dug him; when he told me he liked sports, I knew he wasn’t a pussy; when I heard he was a Jewish rocker, I knew he was no ordinary Jew; when I found out he watched MSNBC, I knew it was a match; when my father gave him thumbs-up, I knew he was something special.

And when I watched him volunteer with the disabled athletes at Special Olympics, I knew I had to have him.

But when I fully experienced the depth of his caring and character, I knew it was love.

Robby, you are my champion, my protector, my BFF, my favorite comedian, my trusty ad court partner, my own personal IT guy, and my new emergency contact number.

You are my Mr. Right in every way.

You are the Ashford to my Simpson, the Burns to my Allen, the Kool in my Gang, and the Earth and Wind to my Fire. You are music and laughter, safety and comfort, strength and support, everyday of my life.

Treva Brandon and Robby Scharf WeddingI vow to you: my love, my heart, my soul, and my spirit. I vow to keep my racquet head up, and keep my eye on the ball. I vow to keep my only child tendencies in check, and I vow to keep the spare toilet paper in the bathroom instead of in my office closet. I vow to keep an open mind about moving to the Valley, and I vow to learn how to make a brisket and spend more time in the kitchen.

As your wife, I vow to keep you happy, healthy, and fit – whether you like it or not. Remember, you are marrying a personal trainer so deal with it.

To your father Eddie, I vow to make a good daughter-in-law. Good, in that I will never stand in the way of you and Robby and Major League Baseball.

And finally, to your mother Fran who is not here with us today, I vow to make her proud. I promise to take good care of her son, and honor the extraordinary man he has become.

E052414A-0605I’ve dreamed of writing these vows all my life, and now, this moment is here. Thank you Robby for making me your Mrs. Scharf, and for making all my dreams come true.”