GRADUATION - Why it hits just a little bit different over here

GRADUATION - Why it hits just a little bit different over here

My daughter is graduating college; she is graduating from the University of Alabama.  WOW...I am so very proud of her and all that she has done and continues to do.  A graduation from college is a feat for every student that accomplishes this task.  I know that many do not complete college, they don't have the means to go to college, they don't have the support to go, or they decide on different paths.  I'm cool if you decide not to go to college, but if you do go to a 4 year college and you graduate; CONGRATULATIONS!!!!

Why it hits me just a little bit differently...

My daughter Graci was born in the 9/11 era; the era where we didn't know what the world was going to look like. I was pregnant with Graci when 9/11 happened and in my book I write about her daddy being in NYC when the attack on the US happened. I was scared; I was scared for him and what was happening all over and I was devastated for all the lives that were lost. When Jack got home from NYC after driving all the way, we were scared and talked about what it was going to mean to bring a child into this crazy world. So many things were uncertain. Graci now will never know what (pre) 9/11 life looked like and what it meant to have so many freedoms.  

Fast forward to when we welcomed our son Garret into the world and we had the perfect little family brewing in our little small town. Tragedy struck us in 2006 when Garret died suddenly and unexpectedly to a rare heart defect. This catapulted us into a journey that I never thought surviving would be possible, but we did. Graci's daddy Jack was then diagnosed with cancer and she had to watch her daddy do treatment and it completely uprooted her life in ways that no other kids her age were experiencing. Then, her daddy died and then her Uncle Seth died just two months later.  This girl was experiencing death and devastation all around her, but yet she kept that smile on her face and we learned to be resilient and have the faith to put one foot in front of the other. Together we found love & happiness together and we fought to have a good life no matter how that would look. 

Here we fast forward again to something that I can't even really think or talk about much; Graci's SENIOR year of high school. Let's just think about this for a moment. As a parent of any child, the year they graduate high school is full of emotions and what they have done for 13 years of their lives. The accolades, the celebrations, the awards, the EVERYTHING that we are supposed to celebrate and honor.  We get weepy, we get depressed of the possible "empty nester" syndrome, we get sad, we want time to slow down, and we really want our kids to grow and be safe.  We all know what happened in 2020...COVID!! I despise that word and I truly dislike what it did to SO many families from the deaths to the economy and to the kids in school, specifically the seniors in high school. Graci was a senior.  Her last day of high school was her birthday in March. At the time we didn't know that; they were actually heading into spring break for the remainder of the week when her birthday landed on a Wednesday. She never ever went back to her school to complete her high school career ever again. 

I know SO many went through a LOT during that time, but this was my reality and my feelings. Graci & I both had already lost so much with the people in our lives. I only had ONE child to celebrate a graduation for because my other child was taken from me before his life ever began! I was devastated and if I'm being honest, I am still bitter about it. The community and school did everything they could to make it "okay" and "normal-ish" for the families of these seniors; but still.  

Then Graci had already decided to head down to Alabama to further her college education prior to covid happening. We talked endlessly during the summer about if it was okay, was it safe, was it the best to send our daughter out of state and pay out of state tuition for her only to be locked in her dorm room to do all online learning her 1st semester??  Some days I really do say what the actual "F"!  She went, it wasn't easy at all. She was originally going as a nursing major, but with the first semester being so messed up with covid crap, she switched her major. The amazing thing is she found her tribe, her girls. They survived and thrived in college during the past four years. 

So, Graci's age group of kids that have grown through so many "things" in life, truly should be recognized as AMAZING kids for what they have been through. Graci, should be at the very top of being recognized because she went through all of it, PLUS more! So now, when I turn on the news and I see these protests on college campuses, I'm about ready to go ape shit on these protesters!!  Just stop...stop with the insanity! Graci's college will be fine in this regards, but seriously. Then our community suffered a devastating tornado this past week and it has been so hard to watch. We rally, that's what the Midwest folk do is rally.  

TODAY...Friday, May 3, 2024 my beautiful, strong, and amazing daughter is graduating from the University of Alabama with her Bachelors of Science in Kinesiology. My heart is bursting with pride, with gratitude, with humbleness, with so much love for her strength and resilience through SO much at such a young age.  We did it together, but SHE DID IT!!!!  

So yeah, graduation hits me a little bit different than I'm assuming it hits most of you.  I'm sure some can say me too, but most cannot. Please for the love of everything, let's get our SH*T together in this world and stop the madness.  Let's all come together to make this world a better and more beautiful place so we don't have to worry about when the "next" thing will drop.  TOGETHER we are BETTER!!



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