Author Topic: Graduation  (Read 2625 times)


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« on: May 17, 2015, 09:06:17 AM »
Yesterday, I walked at graduation for my second bachelor's degree that I finished in December.  I managed to get through the ceremony with only one small anxiety episode that I managed to breathe through.  I don't even think the faculty member sitting next to me even realized it.  Why did I walk?  Why did I decide to put myself through this?  I think I needed to really process what the day meant.  I know many students who were graduating.  Some sat with me in classes just days after John died.  Some were John's students who struggled to complete their degrees following John's death.  Then, there were the faculty and staff who knew and loved John and have been supportive of me along the way.  A few are truly my friends, but others have also grieved my husband and haven't been afraid to speak of him when we cross paths on campus or in places like the grocery store.  I realize that many people don't have the opportunity to share their grief with those around them, and I'm fortunate to have my husband's memory honored through many visible tributes here.

John and I had a total of 3 years and 9+ months that we knew each other and were married for 2 years and 9+ months. During that time, we both found ourselves transformed.  His change was more subtle, I suppose.  His life looked quite the same on the outside.  He held the same job; he lived in the same house; he continued doing many of the same things he always did.  But...he was different.  He found his affectionate side.  His colleagues and students saw a much softer man.  He altered his focus - becoming more attuned to his home life and me.  He was amazed at how well he could love and be loved...more than he had dreamed was possible.  He was happy.  Truly happy.

My life dramatically changed.  I left the world I'd known and I made a huge geographic and cultural move from New England to Western Kansas.  I left my profession of 26 years - one that I had really loved and that had afforded me the ability to support my first husband (he was disabled.)  I had wonderful opportunities to travel, both domestic and abroad.  I recognized that I wanted a change...yet I didn't know what it was.  I was used to supporting myself, but John was completely willing to support me now - and give me the opportunity to explore whatever I might want to do.  The timetable didn't matter.  He just wanted me to be happy, to grow, to explore the world with him, to find some way of making a difference, whether that be independently or with him.

I let myself be vulnerable.  I relied on him for income and emotional support.  I initially dabbled in school until I became comfortable in the classroom.  I chose another undergraduate major to pursue, since I didn't have the confidence to go to grad school after so many years in the workforce.  I was well on my way to my second degree, but no real career path...when John suddenly died 16 months ago.  I've since started grad school and I'm heading in a new direction...finally.  I am studying Higher Education Student Affairs.  I want to work with students in the environment that I only came to know because of John.

Attending graduation yesterday wasn't so much about my second bachelor's degree, but more about perseverance and appreciation.  I've pushed through school in spite of my grief and sometimes overwhelming anxiety.  I think it was important for those who know me and my grief to see that their support was valuable.  I believe they also know that it continues to be necessary. 

One of the hardest parts for me...what seems to bring me to my knees with tears flowing...John was a huge catalyst for the changes in my life.  He supported me through the confusion of change.  He loved me so well, understood my grief for my first husband, he recognized and appreciated my vulnerability and the trust I had in him to be there for me as my devoted husband.

Now...I have to keep living out this change, this new version of life...without the man that I wanted to live it with.  I am someone who functions well in a partnership, but now, I have no partner.  I know I have to be open to more change.  It's inevitable.  Somehow, I have to keep trusting that I'll be able to figure this out. 

I just want to be happy again.  Is that too much to ask?

If you've managed to read this through...thank you.


Life is short.  Love with all you've got. 

Barry 11/29/55-9/22/09       John  1/16/57-1/11/14

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Re: Graduation
« Reply #1 on: May 17, 2015, 09:20:55 AM »
Tight hugs to you, Maureen. It is definitely not to much to ask to be happy again. You deserve it. I really am in awe of your perseverance. Suffering from anxiety issues myself, I can only imagine what courage and determination it took to reach these accomplishments without John at your side. I'm glad you've had people to support you and that you have your beautiful Rosie. I'm sure that John would be so proud. I wish he could be there in person to mark the occasion with you. Thank you for sharing these thoughts with us and congratulations on your amazing progress forward.

Sending you love and hugs...
Without you, Baby, I'm not me.


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Re: Graduation
« Reply #2 on: May 17, 2015, 09:24:58 AM »
what an amazing accomplishment for you
such a huge hurdle for you to go over but you did it
and I bet it was much needed for you to walk at graduation
I know getting the courage to do this came from your John
and yes you do deserve Happiness and I hope you find it
I think we all deserve that
hugs to you
My everything


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Re: Graduation
« Reply #3 on: May 17, 2015, 10:24:23 AM »
Crying here... I'm so proud of you, and so sad for you at the same time. Yes, you absolutely deserve to be happy. I can't find any hope for myself, but I have all the hope in the world that you will find joy again. (((Hugs)))
I have love in me the likes of which you can scarcely imagine and rage the likes of which you would not believe. If I cannot satisfy the one, I will indulge the other. ~Mary Shelley, Frankenstein

"Dying is easy. Living is hard. ~George Washington, Hamilton


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Re: Graduation
« Reply #4 on: May 17, 2015, 12:04:55 PM »
It is so nice you were able to continue and accomplish so much after 2 devastating losses.
The strength you have is truly inspiring.


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Re: Graduation
« Reply #5 on: May 17, 2015, 12:44:01 PM »
Big tight hugs Maureen for such a bittersweet milestone.
You will forever be my always.


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Re: Graduation
« Reply #6 on: May 17, 2015, 04:26:02 PM »
Congratulations, Maureen!  You really should be proud of this day. I'm sorry that it comes to you with so much mixed emotion.  I'm sure your husband would be proud.

|+|  M a r k  |+|


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Re: Graduation
« Reply #7 on: May 18, 2015, 01:42:15 AM »
Congrats Maureen!!! I was so blessed to have finally met you in person after chatting with you in the chat room for years. You are an inspiration and helped me in so many ways to live my life to the fullest.

I am so proud of you for getting through school and of graduating, wow, is all I have to say. :)
"It's time to start living the life you've imagined."

  --  Henry James

Sometimes you just have to die a little inside in order
to be reborn and rise again as a stronger and wiser version of you.
  -- Unknown

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Re: Graduation
« Reply #8 on: May 18, 2015, 05:34:18 AM »
Maureen, I loved seeing the pics on FB of you graduating. Such an accomplishment and even with everything that happened you kept going and completed your 2nd degree. It is completely unfair that you have to live this new part of your life without John but I was happy to read what a positive influence he had on your life (and you on his). And yes you deserve all the happiness in the world.


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Re: Graduation
« Reply #9 on: May 18, 2015, 08:45:11 AM »
Maureen-For all you have accomplished and continue to do,  for all you have been through and now we get to congratulate you on your degree....I know you will "keep figuring this out".  Congratulations!

We must free ourselves of the hope that the sea will ever rest. We must learn to sail in high winds.
Aristotle Onassis


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Re: Graduation
« Reply #10 on: May 18, 2015, 10:42:13 AM »
I have come back and read this a couple of times, because every time I want to respond, I find myself at a loss for words. I just want you to know that I read and "heard" every word you wrote, and I continue to be awed by all that you have done, under such horrific circumstances. You are truly an amazing woman. Congratulations on finding the courage to get your degree, to walk in the ceremony, and to continue moving forward.
"The highest tribute to the dead is not grief but gratitude." - Thornton Wilder

Thank you, my dearest Kenneth, for loving me and for giving me the best 13 years of my life.


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Re: Graduation
« Reply #11 on: May 19, 2015, 01:08:26 PM »
Congratulations! You should be proud of yourself.

"Don't cry because it's over. Smile because it happened." Dr. Seuss


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Re: Graduation
« Reply #12 on: May 19, 2015, 02:58:58 PM »
Simply marvelous, WW! Way to go!

Though lovers be lost, love shall not, and death shall have no dominion--Dylan Thomas