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A Letter to My Son Upon High School Graduation

Posted in: Blog by amy on June 4, 2017

I cry at graduations. I always have. Even if I’m watching a graduation on TV and have no ties to any of the students, the tears still flow. There’s something about the music … the smiles … the hope … the impending change … the families beaming with pride … the pain … the struggles … the victories … the failures. It’s all there walking in front of me. The students do not speak, but I see so much in their gait and in their smiles. Everyone has a story. At a high school graduation, each person’s story must be boundless. High school is a time of such great change. Four years full of so much laughter and tears. And, it’s all out there. I watch it all stride by as I fight back tears.

I’m listening to Pomp and Circumstance as I write this (hoping that I’ll numb myself to its tear-inducing effect by ceremony time!). And, I write this for you. I write to you, my firstborn child. In just a few hours, you will be one of those students walking across the stage. What will you be thinking? What are your hopes and your goals? What are your fears? I know you’re ready to get out of Illinois, and you’re ready for the next step. I told you how proud I was of you for finishing high school. My pride is not simply because you have earned a diploma — my pride is overflowing because you are such a cool young man, and you are truly an authentic being. When I think about what I want most for you, it’s exactly that: I want you to be your own authentic, confident, happy being.

busBen, from the time you were just a toddler, it was evident that you marched to the beat of your own drum. It wasn’t that you were selfish or unaware of others, you just did not care about being a part of the pack. You have always been you and have made decisions based on a strong sense of self. I know that tonight, as you walk across that stage, amongst more than 1,000 of your classmates, that I will be remembering that toddler with the crazy hair and boundless energy. I will be thinking about the first time you walked and the first time you climbed on the school bus. I will be reminded of the laughs and games and lessons learned. And, I will reflect on the tears and rejections and, again, the lessons learned.

Now, here you are. You are one of many – many graduates with goals and dreams. With pressure and uncertainty. With memories and wisdom. With fear and trepidation. With the desire and the need to move forward – towards the diploma, towards the future, towards the unknown.

Now, here we are. Your parents. Your grandparents. Your siblings. Your friends. We are here, with tears in our eyes, with so many memories and with our own hopes and dreams for you.

To my son: Listen to the music; walk towards the unknown with confidence and pride; celebrate every accomplishment and learn from your pain. Here you are, on your way towards the beautiful, scary, full-of-possibility future. And, here I remain by your side, as we part.

benSo, let that music play. If my tears decide to make an appearance, I will accept them and know that they are full of so much joy and hope. They are full of memories and experiences. They are full of my never-ending love for that boy who has become a man. For that toddler who climbed aboard the school bus as his father and I fought tears … for that young man who is now heading off to college. For that being who is and will hopefully always remain authentic and true.


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