I just watched the graduation special in Freeform.

Congratulations class of 2020! I cried my way through the entire thing and am currently meandering my way through all kinds of feels. I was warmed to see Spanish speakers and an ASL speaker while watching. There was one message I especially resonated with: “Demand Better.” This is so true. I saw resilience and joy and empowerment that I never could have dreamed of having at their age. So, of course, I can’t help thinking about having been so close to graduating high school, and coming to prison instead. Three weeks. In three more weeks I would have had enough credits to graduate. I was planning on not going to graduation. I wanted the school to just give me my diploma and leave me alone.

I’ve always hated going to graduations where I’m getting any kind of anything. Love going to the graduations of others. Just can’t stand my own graduations. Never have. I refused to participate in my own kindergarten graduation. Instead of doing the whole song and dance with the other kids (yes, literal song and dance), I sat in the corner with my fingers in my ears having a hissy fit.

It took me a long time to figure out why I have such a dislike of graduations. I had never been to one where I wanted the people there to see me graduate until my HEAL graduation last year.
And that’s exactly what has been taken from the class of 2020.

They cannot have a graduation where all the people they want to have see them graduate, can be there. They cannot have their final farewells and pinky promises to be best friends for life. The only cold comfort they have is potentially seeing each other again at their ten year reunion and maybe celebrating then.

Take it from me, ten years is a long time.

So I wish them well. I thank them for their sacrifice. In forgoing their graduations, they have helped keep my loved ones safe. And to honor their sacrifice I wish to pick up and recommit to the charge which they have laid upon my heart.

Do Better.


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