We are on track for Hannah to graduate 8th grade this coming June. As I sat in the committee meeting this morning with the other parents who have volunteered to help organize the graduation ceremony, I thought to myself that Dragon’s 8th grade graduation was the last graduation my son will ever have. We had envisioned for him, of course, a high school graduation, college, grad school. I even pictured being with Dragon one day when his own kids walked down the aisle to receive diplomas. Now, none of that will ever happen. 8th grade graduation, that’s all we get.
Dragon’s 8th grade graduation day started sunny and bright. That evening, he dressed in a blue buttoned-down shirt and gray khakis, handsome with his waterpolo-bleached bangs brushing his forehead. Our friends, the Kamos, draped a handmade red & white lei around his neck, and the Magsirilis gifted Dragon a lei of purple flowers. The kids sat down, they called Dragon’s name, he walked across the stage and shook the District Supervisor’s hand. We snapped photos with friends and family. Auntie Carla, who had flown in for the occasion, took a picture of me and Dragon. We chanted congratulations and waved goodbyes and went home for a sushi dinner to celebrate Dragon’s completion of middle school.
I didn’t know at the time, of course, that that would be Dragon’s last graduation. I didn’t know, or I would have made more of it. I would have encouraged him to invite friends to dinner. I would have thrown him a party. I would have hugged him tighter and told him more emphatically how proud I was of him. I would have wrapped him up in bubble wrap and never let him leave his room again. I would have protected him better.
Hannah asked if she could get two new dresses, one for graduation day and one for the dance. “Sure,” I answered. “Let’s go get you two beautiful new dresses. You deserve them. I’m so proud of you. I love you, Hannah.”
I love you, Dragon.