What I never expected was how I would feel driving up to Wendy’s graduation. I did not expect the overwhelming feelings of grief, loss and sadness to hit me like a boulder. It had been 5 years wasn’t I over this “thing” yet? It was even harder to sit and listen to the memorial presentation to the mother of the daughter who was killed when a driver came thru the wall of the PIMA massage school last year. They talked about Lacey and presented her mother with a shadow box with a framed cap, tassel, gown, certificate, and pins that Lacey would have received that night had she been there.
The night Heather died her entire PIMA medical class came to visit her in ICU and after she died three instructors from PIMA came as well. But I was not invited to the graduation, nor was I given a cap and gown with a tassel or a certificate with Heather’s name on it. As I sat there and listened the slap across my face began to sting and sting hard. But it had been 5 years wasn’t I over this “thing” yet?
I kept telling myself don’t say anything “let it go” but it did no good. My mind kept saying that an injustice to Heather had been done and I as her mother needed to make it right. I deserved to have all those things too. Lacey and Heather had attended PIMA the exact same amount of time, 3 weeks. I excused myself from the family and went to speak with Mark a director of PIMA. I explained how hard it was to drive up and see the girls in cap and gown, what I would never ever get to see Heather do, but even harder was the presentation of what I wanted to have of Heather’s too. PIMA was her goal, her dream and she was beyond thrilled and excited to be going, looking forward to a very long career. But once again, it had been 5 years and wasn’t I over this “thing” yet?
I was shocked and thrilled to receive an email form Mark that same night telling me that Erin, his assistant would be helping me make my memorial shadow box for Heather and that he expressed his sadness and was very sorry that 5 years ago Heather and I had been overlooked. Mark was not the director there at the time Heather died. Erin and I began working on the shadow box and I stated I only wanted the cap, not the entire gown, her certificate, tassel and her honor cords for perfect attendance. At the last minute I decided that I wanted to add Heather’s PIMA badge ID to the shadow box. While I love seeing it and holding it I was afraid someday it would be misplaced. By placing it in the shadow box it will be safe forever. I was so moved when Erin emailed me to say she had found the tassel with 2010 on it, the year she would have graduated. The smallest detail she had seen to and it was clear that while it had been 5 years, no one was over this “thing” yet.
I was thrilled to finally meet Erin and pick up the completed shadow box on Friday. I also met the campus director Bill, who expressed his sincere sympathy and gratitude that I spoke up and they could make this for me. I was moved to tears as they took the cardboard off and revealed the finished box. The certificate has her name on it….the actual date of the graduation and the tassel has 2010. Heather Nicole Coombe would have graduated from PIMA medical with highest honors and perfect attendance in Medical Coding and Billing on Saturday, January 30, 2010. She would have worn the cap and gown with the tassel hanging from her cap and proudly walked across the stage to get her certificate. I have no doubt when she came down the stairs she would have blown me a kiss like she did at her graduation from high school. Looking at the shadow box removes the 5 years and I realize I will never be over this “thing,” ever.
Mama always said...that beginnings are scary,
endings are usually sad,
but it's the middle that counts the most.
Try to remember that when you find yourself at a new beginning.
Just give hope a chance to float up. And it will, too...