High School graduation is a particularly bittersweet occasion. A time where we acknowledge and celebrate graduating Seniors, and a time where we remember friends and family that weren’t fortunate to graduate.
We recently attended Emily’s High school graduation at the Santa Barbara bowl. Out of a class of 523 students, she was recognized as a "Distinguished Don". This is a rigorous selection process where teachers, counselors, and staff members nominate students that are role models in dedication, professionalism, and academic accomplishment. Distinguished Dons contribute endless hours to their community and SBHS, doing what they can to make our society and school a better place. I’m so extremely proud of my little sister and what she was able to accomplish in her high school years despite the setbacks she faced due to my situation. Emily will be attending UC Berkeley in the fall in the College of Natural Resources.
While it was great seeing my sister graduate, it resurfaced emotions I thought I was done feeling. For the most part, I feel like I’m done mourning my losses. I try to keep myself busy enough to where I don’t really think about it anymore. But this graduation was different. Maybe it was seeing friends and teachers I hadn’t seen long-time, or maybe it was hearing "Santa Barbara Hail to Thee". But sitting there in the handicap section of the bowl, I couldn’t help but think of the graduation I missed.
I was an inpatient at Craig Hospital on my graduation day 3 years ago. I didn’t get to pick out a pretty graduation dress or celebrate with my childhood friends. Instead, I wore my Craig T, compression stockings, and PJ bottoms. There was so much going on at that time that I don’t remember being particularly depressed on that day. I think those emotions were present, but I was a bit... preoccupied.
Flash forward to 2018 ⟶ I’m reminded that I would’ve been the third generation to walk down the hill at Peabody Stadium to accept my diploma. I’m reminded how much fun I would’ve had at grad night. And I’m reminded that that would’ve been the first day of the rest of my life as an independent adult. While most of the time I put on a happy face, I know it’s okay to mourn my losses. Certain things trigger that sadness and remind me that I don’t think I’ll be "done" mourning. And that’s okay. Because as long as I’m looking forward, I know it’s okay to momentarily indulge in my grief.