Real talk from a grieving parent: this is the summer I was dreading more than any other summer before. This was the summer of really big ‘should have been’ moments that in reality are ‘never going to happen’ moments. Grieving and graduations – this is where we are. And this too, shall pass.”
Grieving And Graduations
When Jacob died at 4-year-old, a zillion moments that would never happen flashed before my eyes. I knew I wouldn’t see his first day of kindergarten or watch him hit a ball to center field or get married or have his own kids.
So much loss in such a short period of time- that blink of an eye thing, you know?
I knew all of these moments would come in time- and I knew it as we walked away from the hospital.
I also knew it would all hurt. A lot. Those future milestones were marked on my heart already promising to inflame the pain of loss once again.
They came- a lot of them came- and, yes, some were painful. Some were more bittersweet. Some actually floated by with little more than a gentle nod of recognition.
But this summer was one that I was fearing the most. It was the one I’d marked in my head as the BIG milestone for parents. It was bound to make me feel the sharp pain of his loss all over again.
2019 is the year Jacob should have graduated high school. And he should be making all the exciting plans for college or travel or trade school or whatever he might have decided to do.
But the hard truth of the matter is that he did not even go to school- not one single day- much less graduate. There are no plans to make, no future to worry about or to get excited about because my child died.
The Graduations Happened Anyway
The big days came, as I knew they would, and as, of course, they should. Class of 2019: congratulations! Sincerely and completely- I mean this.
For my friends and family and their incredible teens crossing into adulthood, the 2019 Graduation Season was full of epic promise.
So many kiddos to be proud of and so many futures to look forward to. It was a bittersweet spring for me.
My own family had our first high school graduation- the first grandchild my parents witnessed walking across the stage and into her own exciting future.
My beautiful niece won honors and scholarships and she deserved every single one. We’re all so proud of her and the future ahead.
While I know her thoughts were not on Jacob while she walked across the stage, I also know she has grown up missing him, too. She was Jake’s first friend and I remember her tears when he died as much as my own.
After All These Years: A Graduation Kindness
My friends with kids born in 2000-2001 also celebrated the graduations and I cheered each of them on via social media. And they were true cheers- I really am proud of these kids and what they have to look forward to.
One graduation, did, however, bring me to my knees.
I was in tears, I was just gutted- but it was with tears of gratitude. Not the pain that I’d come to expect from this year’s graduation celebrations. And I will always be thankful for this kindness.
From Mandy on Facebook:
Patty and Rob: truthfully, Noah doesn’t remember Jacob all that well. But I do.
When Noah started kindergarten, I thought about Jacob.
When he bumped up into middle school, I thought about him.
When Noah started high school, and started driving, I thought about how this would have been when Jacob would have been doing these things too.
Homecoming, Prom, taking the SAT…. Jacob has ridden along with him every step of the way.
So today, Noah carried him with him as he graduated from high school.
i carry your heart with me (I carry it in my heart.) -e.e. cummings”
Noah, who went to pre-school with Jacob and honestly knew my son for a total of 6 weeks, carried Jacob across that stage with him during one of the biggest moments of his young life.
He didn’t hesitate, his mom said when she asked if he would do this for her. For me. For Jacob.
Grieving Never Stops
Look- it’s true. I’m sad- I’m mourning (but, I’m always mourning so this isn’t new)- but I’m also feeling a kind of release as the summer winds blow graduation away.
With this milestone past us, I find myself in a position to let go of the dread and worry that I had attached to these dates. You could even say I’ve graduated as well.
Oh, don’t get me wrong. It’s not over. Grieving never really stops.
There are more dates and more moments that he will be missed, but this one is passing. And for that, I’m letting out the breath I’ve been holding all year.
It’s good- we’re good.
Patty Holliday is a Marvel loving, Disney obsessed wife, and mother of four. She’s a travel agent specializing in Disney & Universal vacations- and loves a candid confession. Find her in Virginia (or anywhere frequent flyer miles or her trusty minivan takes her.)