Fifteen years ago today I graduated from my undergrad studies at Atlanta Christian College. It was a very bittersweet day for me. It was the second major milestone our family had faced after my mother’s passing in August 1999.
I have many memories from that day that run the entire spectrum of emotions. I remember being seated during the ceremony facing my family. I watched my father cry…and I cried with him.
I was part of a group of seven Early Childhood Education students who traveled together through the entire four years of our education. At the ceremony, I don’t know that they could have been seated any closer to me. They all tried to show their support to me. Since we were seated alphabetically I know that Mark and Sadonna were holding each of my hands. Several others had a hand on my back or arms. Some cried with me. Others remained strong to offer me strength.
Other precious friends were there. Kathy and Paula, who had graduated the year before, returned to celebrate with us. I remember being touched as they hugged my father. Michael, my husband now, delayed the next step in his future to be with me on this tough day.
I remember seeing the faces of the leadership of my college, many of whom had their own friendships with my parents. Many of whom had also been present at my mother’s funeral. All of whom had offered their support and love through very dark and difficult days.
There were happy moments of that day. I had earned the distinction of graduating with honors – something I knew would make both of my parents very proud. I was also very proud of the other six of my classmates, as well as the other 53 graduating with me. My sweet friend, Allison, graduated with a perfect 4.0 GPA. Allison and I had known each other since the third grade.
A few weeks later I watched my younger brother graduate from high school. I watched my father stand in pride as my brother’s name was called and he crossed the stage to receive his diploma.
I have learned to cherish these moments even more deeply than I did before. It’s almost as if I am trying to cherish them for my mother as well.