Depression Marathon Blog

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Diagnosed with depression 17 years ago, I lost the life I once knew, but in the process re-created a better me. I am alive and functional today because of my dog, my treatment team, my sobriety, and my willingness to re-create myself within the confines of this illness. I hate the illness, but I'm grateful for the person I've become and the opportunities I've seized because of it. I hope writing a depression blog will reduce stigma and improve the understanding and treatment of people with mental illness. All original content copyright to me: etta. Enjoy your visit!

Monday, June 8, 2009

A Special Graduation

I recognized his lackadaisical stride and hunched shoulders despite my distant position atop the grandstand. Zoom in with the camera--yup, definitely B., the young man I've mentored since he was sixteen. He's 18 now, and the sight of him in his cap and gown brings a surprising tear to my eye. I realize I am beaming the wide, proud smile of a parent, and I chuckle to myself. With no kids of my own, this may be my one-time moment of beaming pride.

I follow his progress all the way to his seat. Thousands of onlookers prohibit him from spotting me in the crowd, and I am sad. I think he trusts that I am there, but I know he'd feel better if he was sure. I wonder if his alcoholic mom even made the one mile trip. I find out later she didn't bother. He says he doesn't care, but deep down I know he's hurt.

He's very sweet with me. His smile as he approaches is perhaps the most relaxed on him I've ever seen. We hug--the first time ever, I believe. A stranger kindly snaps a couple of pictures of us. He thanks me over and over for being there. I tell him I wouldn't have missed it for the world. I feel so honored to be included.

I tell him I'm proud of him. We talk about college and whether he will attend the overnight grad party. As usual, I find myself encouraging him to go, to get out of his comfort zone, and check out the party. He thanks me again, and then quietly thanks me for the past two and a half years. We chuckle as we review all that we've accomplished together. He jokingly says, "When I'm famous, you can say you knew me when I flunked my driver's test." We laugh out loud, and I hesitantly take my leave.

He's going away to college. I pray he will be okay. I'm so proud and yet also sad. I will miss him when he's gone, but if he's willing, I hope never to lose track of him. Our relationship will change, as he will need less assistance from me. Perhaps this is just what it feels like to be a parent--love him and let him go. It's so cliche, but graduations truly are an ending and a beginning, aren't they? Congratulations, B., and good luck!


Anonymous said...


What a tender, caring heart you must have to spend yourself and reach out to this young man, be a part of his life when the one(s) that should be there, sadly are not.

Etta, I'm convinced that 98% of the problems facing society and this nation solemnly rise from the fact that so many boys are truly "father-less". By that, I'm talking about the obvious lack of dad's in broken homes, but equally as destructive are the dads that are physically present, but emotionally and spiritually disengaged with their most crucial responsibility; their sons.

As I watch our sons grow, I can attest unquivically to the fact that the greatest longing on a boys soul is to have masculinity lovingly, regularly, and genuinely conveyed to them by their dad. To have the man they look to, aspire to be like, and trust unconditionally look them squarely in the eyes and tell them "Son, I love you. I believe in you. God created you to fulfill a purpose in this world, and I know you have what it takes to accomplish it".

Where this young man has perhaps missed receiving that reassurance, Etta, thank you for stepping in and whispering to his soul. I cannot encourage you enough to be persistent as you can be, struggle and work to remain part of his life away at college. Don't be passive about it, be tenacious. He may not know that he needs it, but your words and encouragement and care are life-giving to a starving soul.


etta said...

Thank you, Chris.
I will definitely attempt to remain in B.'s life. As I always tell him, especially when he's being a bit challenging, "You can't get rid of me that easily!"