Though it was a day after receiving this jolting diagnosis, I didn't want to miss her strut her stuff across the stage in cap and gown after working so hard to get this degree. Who cares that they announced her as "Christine" instead of "Kristen." As we all are so accustomed to, she was certain to pronounce her last name to the dean (Dub-RE-AL) but who would have thought he'd screw up "Kristen"?
It felt so good to be with my whole family, sitting there in the warm sun on the campus of Keene State College in NH (okay, it was a little hot, especially for someone who can't yet wear deodorant in her left pit ... BO has a whole new meaning). My brother suggested I just cake it on reeeeeeaaaaaal thick on the right side to balance things out. I laughed so hard I couldn't breathe for a good 10 minutes. Nothing like a shoulder shaking giggle fit in the middle of a jam-packed graduation audience. I may have somehow fallen asleep in my chair, eyes shut behind my dark sunglasses, amid honking air horns and loud cheering sections. You know the kind of sleep---the one with the powerful head bobs that keep waking you back up. My mom told me I had some real solid head bobs and would keep catching myself. This was of course after my sister's name was called and during the remainder of the 899 other names that were called ... yes 900 damn graduates had to walk across the stage. I mean, it was very special to hear each individual recognized.
At my graduation they skipped nearly all the speeches, stood all 4,000 of us up, the college presidents waving their hands at us like it was a magic trick and bestowed on us all of us the rights and privileges that come with holding a UNH degree as lighting struck in the background and rain drenched (literally drenched) all of us shivering in our hangy black gowns. Somebody screwed up on the rain back-up plan.
I was still sore, achey and easily winded, as I still him today, and I suppose still will be until I start getting treatments and start getting better. But it's amazing how the love of your family can hold you up. Lots of laughs, hugs and comfort.