This past Friday, I attended what would have been my daughter Madison’s High School Graduation. I knew it would no doubt, be one of the most difficult milestones I’ve had to face to date. However, I truly and wholeheartedly wanted to be there to see her friends graduate and watch them celebrate in their accomplishments. I can sincerely say that I am glad I decided to attend.
Madison had passed away during their sophomore year and I’ve been a bit out of sorts with what has been happening with her friends. It was especially good getting to see two of her very best friends’ accomplishments and watching them both receive high recognition & their diplomas. I am so extremely proud and happy for those two girls, which had been a huge part of our lives for so long.
I now know, I wasn’t exactly realistic or even able to imagine just how much of an emotional rollercoaster it would actually be going to such an event, beforehand. On this night, I was able to stand, clap and smile with pure joy in my heart on so many occasions. Then something would hit me and I’d have to crumple to my seat before I fell to my knees. There were a couple of times when I literally had to cry out audibly because my heartache was just too much to contain. Thankfully, it wasn’t during any of the quieter moments and my cries were more or less covered by the rest of the audience.
They remembered Madison as part of the 2019 Senior Class with an empty chair and even talked about her a little during one of the student speeches. A few of her friends gave me flowers to honor me as Maddy’s mother since she couldn’t be there to recognize me herself. She has such sweet and thoughtful friends.
There really are no words to describe the feeling of seeing your child’s chair sitting there, empty, on her graduation day. This rather small Senior class of just under 50 graduates actually had another empty chair too. I’m not sure if the family of the other missing graduate was there or not, but my heart went out to them, all the same. My heart also went out to all those who were missing two of their friends on such an important day.
At the end of the ceremony, when it was time for them all to throw their caps in the air, I stood up, so happy and clapping for each and every one of them. That’s when the most difficult part of the night hit. I couldn’t find her in the crowd, as I searched all those happy and smiling faces of the graduates. In that very moment, oh how I wished she was there throwing her hat too! My heart rejoiced, yet wept so deeply, all at the same time. During this moment, I was entirely overwhelmed by such conflicting emotions all at once.
I know she was watching over her friends as they celebrated and must’ve felt the same joy and pride I had in my heart for them on this very special day too. I know she was rooting for them as she watched from so very far away.