My daughter Emma had her last three classes of secondary school last Friday – double History and English – her two favourite subjects. We also had her last award ceremony in school last week and she received the 6th year English award. It’s well deserved and it goes without saying that we are really proud of her.
As she got out of the car this morning I got a flash back to the little girl in her navy and green tracksuit on her very first day of primary school in September 2001. She was fiercely independent and remains so to this day.
After my cancer diagnosis I always hoped that I would get to be around to see her through primary school and it’s an understatement to say that it’s a dream come through for me to still be here on her last day of secondary school. These are little things in the grand scheme of worldly things but in the world and the life of a family they are major milestones.
I am grateful today that we have seen her through her teenage years and that she has come out the other side as a bright, brave, intelligent, gifted and very generous young woman. I am thrilled to be able to be here to catch a glimpse of the wonderful woman I know she will be.
Getting to see your children grow and mature is something that perhaps we take for granted. I know I did when I had Emma and Cathal. I just assumed I would be here for school, college, relationships, first loves, breakups, weddings and grandchildren.
Then I was diagnosed with incurable cancer and suddenly all of those life events are no longer guaranteed. That’s harsh and devastating. It’s the one element of being diagnosed with cancer that almost broke me —– the idea that I would not get to be here as Mum to Emma and Cathal and that I would miss out on all the little and large milestones.
Today I am offering a prayer of thanks to God, a prayer of thanks for advances in medicine and treatments which have allowed me 8 years. I am also thanking God that I have always been such a stubborn person and unwilling to give in to challenges.
I am offering a prayer for Emma and all the young people who are graduating this week:
May they always have love in their lives
May they have parents and other adults who are generous with their guidance and mentoring
May they always have a place to call home
May they always have friendships to sustain and support them
May they always treasure their school years
May they always have someone to listen to them
May they always have faith (even if they fall away from it for a time as young people sometimes do)
May they never take life for granted.