I did it! I finally graduated from college.

I went through an online program, and I had the option to attend graduation in person but did not for a few reasons. The number one reason being that I didn’t think I could handle the ceremony with my anxiety. But also, I couldn’t afford to travel to San Diego.

As it turned out, my mom ended up being diagnosed with acute leukemia and I was going back and forth to the hospital constantly during the time of the graduation ceremony. Ultimately I wouldn’t have been able to go to graduation anyway.

So I got my diploma in the mail. I received it on one of the many days during which I had spent most of the day crying. I could tell by the envelope what was inside. I left it sitting unopened on the kitchen table, because my mom was in the hospital. I didn’t know if she would live long enough to get to come home and see it. I just couldn’t bring myself to open it without her.

For four years, I had looked forward to receiving my diploma. I had looked forward to this day, and so had my mom. It had never occurred to me that my mom wouldn’t be around to see this moment.

So for two weeks the diploma sat on the kitchen table, the envelope unopened.

Then my mom came home.

We opened it together.

She said she was glad she lived long enough to see this day. She said she was proud of me.

She asked why I didn’t seem happy about it. I just couldn’t be happy.

Suddenly the hard work of the past four years to graduate school seems meaningless. All of the stress I went through with school, all that stress that I thought would be over once I graduated, seems so small and insignificant compared to the stress of our life now.

All I want now is for my mom to live. But at least she got to see my diploma.