Today I graduated with my B.A. Honours degree. This means I’m now half way through the journey that started when I sat on your porch about a year ago. Actually, maybe I’m a bit more than half way because getting my acceptance was part of the process too. Of course our last email exchange was me telling you my graduation date, so I knew you wouldn’t have been there anyway, but when I turned that corner as the procession left the field house my mind flashed to the last time. That’s where you were, and today you weren’t, and next year you won’t be.
There were a lot of small moments that make thing of you. When they mentioned the professors emeritus on the stage, when the same professor whose class you spoke to was the one helping me with my hood, when the honorary degree recipients was the father of a boy I went to high school with and when he talked about his kids spending time on Carleton campus, challenging themselves to dive off the tower at the pool. The pool that you took us to.
The thing is, Dad, I’ve grown very used to running things by you. I get assignments and we have conversations. I email you about resources. I ask you for help. Next year I will be taking on one of my biggest challenges – a challenge you helped talk me in to – and you won’t be there. You won’t be there when I celebrate my success either. You could have used your status as a professor emeritus to sit on the stage when I walked across as a Master in Political Management, but you won’t be there at all.
All my life I’ve felt as though I had to prove myself to you and now I’m there Dad. I succeeded. I got into this great program, I’m going to get a great job or jobs out of it. I’ve got a great husband and a beautiful home. I’ve got in-laws who were there for me on this day to celebrate, who love my daughter and have helped us so much over the years. They were there today understanding why I needed all the extra support.
I’ve got this daughter. Dad, she’s everything you could have ever wanted me to be. She’s bright and athletic and happy. She’s going to take over the world. You and her, you would have been quite a pair. But now she only gets faint memories.
I came around that corner, where you were last time, proud of me, and all at once I expected to see your face again and knew it wouldn’t happen. It’s not fair that I can’t share these things with you. It took me such a long time to get to this place.
But I did it, and you should know.