Some of you may have asked him when he was going to be finished with the aforementioned doctorate. More than likely, you would have heard his favorite non-committal answer, "In about a year . . ."
Some of you may even remember hearing about our bargain, no, agreement, that we could definitely have a third child if the doctorate would be complete before the birth. A defense for a child. Sounded easy enough. Or not. The third child will be two years old next month.
The boys and I just got back from our fourth forced separation from Mike so that he could spend some quality time with his dissertation. I hoped (and prayed) that this fourth trip would be the charm.
While we were gone, I received daily reports on his progress:
Revised chapter 3. Revised chapter 4. Had friend proof-read. Edited again. Had professor look it over. Edited again. Scheduled defense with committee. Stayed up all night finishing the final edits, formatting, and writing, in his own words, "a pretty impressive conclusion." Turned in dissertation to committee. Stressed/worried (even though he never gets stressed or worried). Prepared presentation. Practiced presentation.
And that brought us up to today, August 21st, a day that will go down in history (for this family anyway).
I hadn't let myself believe that it was actually going to happen because I didn't want to be disappointed again. So when I found myself actually sitting in the conference room watching Mike at the front and looking at his slides while he talked about his research, well, it was kind of a surreal moment. I realized that I'd spent years anticipating this moment, and then when that moment finally came, it caught me by surprise because I hadn't let myself anticipate it!
Before the defense began, Mike looked ill. He muttered incoherently and cleared his throat mercilessly. Afterwards, my dad said he'd never seen Mike so nervous, didn't even know he could be so nervous.
His defense was not unlike this Studio C skit (although, thankfully, it ended far less violently):
But when Mike burst from the conference room after talking with his committee, he was a changed man. It was a mixture of happiness and relief and, yes, I think, awe. I watched Mike shake hands with Dr. Gale and heard the words, "Congratulations." I watched the committee members sign the paper saying he passed his defense. I watched Mike's smile come back to his face. It was one of the best moments of my life, and it wasn't even really my moment.
When Mike got home a few minutes ago, he said, "Well, I guess I'll go work on my dissertation for three hours now . . . NOT!"
Yes, I think I could get used to this.