Thursday, April 29, 2010

Dear Ana

Dear Ana, 

I graduate in three weeks.  on the evening of May 21st, I will walk across that stage in the IVCC gymnasium, and shake the hand of some school official as he or she hands me the degree I have struggled so hard to obtain over the last three years.  Joe will be there watching me.  As will Natalie and Josh, the Kayser's, and hopefully even Nicole.  But you won't.  

I can remember one day, not long before you died, I was sitting in your office at Freedom House before Thursday night children's group.  I don't remember the topic of conversation -- most likely something about college -- but it doesn't matter anyway.  You told me to 'Reach for the stars, baby, and you'll get 'em."  You were one of the few people who have been able to make me actually believe that, and it's stuck with me.  I can still hear you speaking those words, as if you were standing in front of me still.  

When I was younger, I used to look at the people around me in my peer group.  So many of them had already built up a bad reputation for themselves.  Drugs, alcohol, violence, criminal activity, and teen pregnancies, among other things.  Many of them grew up in households just like my own, where good parenting wasn't exactly a high priority and buying weed and beer with our last twenty bucks was higher on the list than feeding the children in the house.  But despite the similarities in home lives, I didn't go down that road.  Why?  I figured out long ago that it was because they didn't have an Ana, and I did.  They didn't have that person cheering them on, teaching them valuable life skills, making them feel included, and never making them feel like they weren't worthy.  I used to tell people that the reason I wasn't dead in a ditch somewhere was because of you.  I still believe that.  

Though I still have a long way to go before I reach my ultimate dreams, I have already become more successful than I ever thought was possible for me.  You played a large part in that.  And now here I am, with graduation three weeks away, and I'm not even able to share that success with you.  

It will be a joyous day for me, my graduation.  I will feel great pride as I claim my hard-earned degree in front of my closest friends and loved ones.  I will feel a rush of relief as the realization that I'm finally finished with this chapter of my life washes over me.  I will feel anxiously hopeful as I ponder the great changes that are about to come at me in rapid succession.  But there will also be a place, not-so-deep under the surface, that will be rife with sadness, grief, and longing.  As my friends shake my hand, give me hugs, and congratulate me, I will occasionally make an unnoticed glance to that empty spot behind them where you should be standing, smiling at me, beaming with pride, and waiting to say "I told you so! I told you that you could do it!" 

My life may go on without you, but without you, my life will never again be the same.  

1 comment:


wow.... thats deep.... :)