My middle daughter graduates from high school this week. She had to write a speech for a class, and what she put together blew me away. Sometimes your kids do things that really let you see inside of them. This one was too amazing to not share.
AP Literature Graduation Speech
Four years flew by, and I am not sure if these were the best or worst of my life. I never really realized how many things I took for granted in life, until I was saying goodbye. I lost many things throughout high school. Friends, consistency, a normal knee. I did not appreciate what I had enough.
I have spent so much of my life wishing time would speed up. It didn't matter if it was for school days to end, summer to come faster, or boring trips to grandma’s house to be over. I never appreciated the time I had until it was gone.
As the days, weeks, and months have passed, I now wish they would just stop.
A six hour anxiety-filled car ride felt as if it had been dragged on for days. Life events gave me the exact opposite of what I was wishing for.
Time had never stood so still until I was sitting on the floor of a hospital watching each breath my grandfather took.
The cement was cold, but somehow my little sister had managed to fall asleep in my lap. My head was leaning against my other sister’s shoulder. Her hands were clammy but I was too scared to let go.
As his chest began to rise and fall slower than before, it felt like the world had just stopped.
Nurses came in and out, taking turns checking his vitals. Family members said their goodbyes. It felt like a fever dream. It might’ve been easier had someone just screamed, the silence was deafening.
Instead of fireworks, my Fourth of July was spent hoping for a miracle that we wouldn’t get.
Surgery was unsuccessful, and I watched as my mom held his hand as tight as possible as he was taken off life support. I had never seen my grandma cry before.
I was aware that people cannot live forever, but I guess I forgot.
In the time I spent wanting to get older, I let it slip that loved ones are not getting any younger.
Saying goodbye was the hardest thing I have ever done, it shook me to the core and left me entirely empty. I didn’t cherish the time I had with him, and now there was none left. I regretted every time I couldn’t just slow down and live in the now.
I have made it more of a priority to just stop and breathe. COVID might have been a blessing in that sense. I was forced to slow down.
I used to dread trips to Montana. It was boring and there was nothing to do. It turns out I just had a shit perspective on what was valuable to me, because I would give anything to get that time back. As graduation nears, understanding he will not get to watch me walk has been a hard reality.
If there is one thing I have learned in high school that is going to stick, it is to simply be present in every moment. You never know what you’re going to miss out on if all you can do is focus on what might be.
I will never be able to get back the time lost, but I see myself not taking it for granted. I hope I walk a little slower, breathe a little deeper, and hug everyone a little tighter. Each moment of high school has shaped me into the individual I am and continue to develop into. Friendships I cherish more now that I have the understanding that time continues to pass.
Every memory has become bittersweet.
The first day of freshman year as a timid fourteen year old, walking through the giant doors of Lewis and Clark High School.
The last summer run before sophomore cross country started.
Friends doing a drive by get well soon following ACL surgery.
Meeting one of my best friends a couple months into senior year at a new school.
I understand the value of the time I have spent in high school. As we get ready to move onto the new chapter of our lives, we are all going our separate ways. I don’t know many of you, but those of you I have gotten the opportunity to know, you’ve touched my life in a positive light.
******, you told me my outfit was cute on the first day of school, and I have never forgotten it. You extended me kindness and helped me feel more welcome in an unsure environment. You exude empathy, and have encouraged me. You’re a shoulder to cry on and a source of confidence when I need it.
*******, I love you a lot. Every memory I will hold onto from senior year, you somehow seem to be in it. You pushed me outside of my comfort zone. Getting me to go to new places, meet new people, and even getting me in my first car accident. You’ve shifted my life upside down, and I now find comfort in the chaos we seem to find ourselves in.
******* brought me here. I started school in ****** with her by my side, and I’m grateful to get to finish it with her. Nine years of friendship, and I think I have found my person. I value every dumb decision she has talked me into.
High school has come to an end. Four years have flown by. Time is a great gift and I hope I never wish time away. The only thing more important is what we spend it on.
I hope we all head off into our next journey, without the focus on the final destination. I hope you value the time you have been given, and never take what you have for granted.