Yesterday Jim graduated from high school. The special need seniors were the last to go through the processional line. I saw a girl there and thought, ‘Wow! That could be my Sarah’ and I wondered where her mom was in this massive crowd. Tears filled my eyes as I thought how proud she must be! I didn’t see her after the ceremony, but if I did, this is what I would have told her:
“You do not know me but I cried with you in celebration today. I came to see my son graduate but tears streamed down my face when I saw your daughter cross the stage to receive her diploma. I recognized she was ‘special needs’. The way she was jumping in place, part excitement, part being over-stimulated with the noise and people; the way her aide kept guiding her to stay in the line reminded me very much of my own daughter who has Autism. What a sense of pride you must have felt when you saw her accept her diploma!
She did it! The numerous IEP’s (Individual Educational Plans) to help tailor your daughter’s education, the many meetings with teachers and aides finding ways to help her, all worth it now to see what she has accomplished. You may have had struggles some mornings getting her ready for school. My daughter can be so stubborn sometimes and nothing will deter her. For example, last week my daughter insisted on wearing her Memorial Day headband that had silver streamers shooting off the top. She loved the noise it made when she shook her head. You can only imagine the amount of head shaking she did! I’m surprised it didn’t give her a headache! I bet you, too, shook your head many times over the years as you decided to pick your battles and keep the big picture in mind: she is receiving an education that will improve her future.
I am so proud of your girl! She did something that my daughter will not be doing. My daughter will be in an autism program until she is 26 years old and therefore, will not be graduating with her local high school. In many ways, I imagined what it would have been like if that was my daughter walking across that stage. For me, my heart would be beating fast! I would be praying she wouldn’t run and does what she is instructed to do, but most certainly I would have an overwhelming sense of pride!
She did it, Momma! She did it!
I loved what happened after your daughter received her diploma. Everyone had gone through the line on stage to receive their diplomas but there was a lull as we waited for all the seniors to exit the stage and return to their seats. The silence was broken when the crowd began to cheer for all the seniors, but your daughter thought it was just for her! She took off her hat and bowed to the audience. She waved and threw fist bumps into the air celebrating her accomplishment! I loved how the crowd cheered even more! Her aide led her back to her seat but that moment will forever be on my heart, other than my son receiving his diploma. The speeches and charge to the seniors will be forgotten, but I will never forget the look of pride on your daughter’s face as she lifted her hands up in celebration. Her diploma means so much more. It is the finish line. It is something you have been striving and working so hard for and I am cheering with you as you celebrate!
Congratulations, proud Momma! She did it!”
“Rejoice with those who rejoice…” Romans 12:15a