It Took Me Over Two Years To Write This Post – Part 6 “The Graduation Celebration & The End”

The story is true (some details omitted for privacy)the names are fake.

Content Warning: Suicide

***

Part 1Part 2Part 3Part 4, Part 5

Time passed. About a year and a half later, “Eliora” graduated from the program you encouraged her to do.

Eliora gave me partial credit for inspiring her to pursue this profession, but to be honest, the initial “inspiration” conversation went something like this:

“Joyce”: Eliora is thinking of doing [program] but she’s on the fence about it. I really think she would be amazing at it.

JYP: OMG Yes!!!

Joyce: Right?! Exactly!! I’ll call my sister [an alumna of the program] and tell her to talk to Eliora.

So really, I was just a sounding board.

***

Leading up to her graduation, Eliora forwarded the email conversation you had with her encouraging her to apply for the program. It reminded me how you were the only person I knew who wrote emails in Comic Sans. Purple Comic Sans no less. Nobody else can write emails in Purple Comic Sans and get away with it. I haven’t re-read our email exchanges and I haven’t looked at photos of you since you died.

Actually, the truth is, there aren’t many photos. When you have a friendship that mostly consists of hanging out, rather than going out, a friendship that doesn’t lend itself well to social media, there aren’t that many photos. A regret in itself. But I digress.

***

Anyway, the graduation celebration was joyous. It took place at a time when an in-person graduation celebration was feasible given the pandemic, and it felt like a celebration of the return to normalcy as well as a celebration of the graduates.

This was the best stock photo I could find that truly captured the joy at the graduation ceremony. Photo by Pavel Danilyuk from Pexels

Your sister was there. “Miriam” was there too – Miriam decided to do the same program. Miriam and Eliora are so different, but they are both going to be so amazing at this career path. It was crazy having so many people from your world, including, by the way, someone I don’t know who spoke at your funeral, in the same room. (I wasn’t at your funeral; Miriam told me this).

Your sister didn’t recognize me at first, although I was wearing one of your accessories. Then again, I had only met your sister once before several years ago.

Your Sister: Hi, I’m [introduces self]. I graduated from this program. What’s your name?

JYP: Hi, I’m JYP. I know you; I’m a friend of Joyce. We met at Joyce’s house once.

Your sister’s face immediately softened, from networking professional mode to more intimate connection mode. And although I barely knew her, she reached out and clasped my hands with understanding.

Your sister: Thank you for coming.

***

The graduation wasn’t really about you. It was about Eliora, but in a way, it was also a celebration for/about you. We knew you would have been so happy to see Eliora graduate; to see so many people from all the corners of your life brought together in celebration. I don’t know exactly what I believe about the afterlife, but I just knew you were celebrating Eliora’s graduation too. I so strongly felt your presence…and I also felt your absence, though not in the emptiness way of the past.

I knew you were celebrating along with the rest of us. Photo by Tara Winstead from Pexels

***

Perhaps it’s not unlike the time I went to a fundraiser dinner/dance at my hometown synagogue a few years after Hometown Rabbi had passed away. The fundraiser dinner/dance was a wildly good time and I was having a truly excellent time dancing. I felt this sense of absence, like, I wish Rabbi were here to see this, but it wasn’t the devastating sense of absence I felt right after he died. This time, it was a pang of, I am so happy and I know Rabbi would have been so happy too, and I am sad that he is missing this, but in a way, I also feel like Rabbi is here in spirit in a way. A softer sense of absence, and also a sense of presence, mixed in with sheer joy.

***

I don’t really know how to end this letter, reflection, whatever you call it. I’ve written an awful lot of words on this. And yet, these concluding words still feel wholly inadequate.

I can only say that I’m grateful for the friendship we had, I miss you, and I hope that you are at peace.

Love always,

JYP

***

Last post in the series.

26 comments

  1. I can see the difficulty of finding words to end your wonderful letter of reflection. Life goes on, and your friend couldn’t take credit for her influence.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Exactly! I couldn’t really do justice to the graduation ceremony description because I had to leave out identifying details, but it really did feel like Joyce’s circle was celebrating Joyce and her influence, along with Eliora’s actual graduation. (And Eliora is one of those beautiful souls who is not at all driven by ego and more than happy to share the celebration spirit).

      Liked by 2 people

  2. It’s understandable why you feel something to be missing even while concluding it. “Joyce” would have been very happy to see this common friend graduate. Hope her soul feels the warmth of all your love, from heaven.

    This was a painful series to read and I’m glad you were able to speak about it without having to bottle it all up anymore.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Sometimes the best we can do is get comfortable with living with the memory of someone instead of the absence. You did a good thing writing this series of posts and they serve as an example of how to work through grief.

    Liked by 1 person

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