It All Ends Here

The 20s are all about letting your light shine. I have always enjoyed the symbolism of light. I find it heartwarming and moving in so many ways. I often wish people light in their lives and ask for the same. I aspire to be a light in the world and one that not gives their light but is able to receive from others who offer it in return. My light, I hope, shines bright unto others and ignites, refreshes, or enhances theirs. I strive to do that daily. I will let my light shine, so long as I live. I know it will until it all ends here.
 
*Miss part one of my graduation weekend story - read it first here "One Last Time"
 
From Marianne Williamson's A Return to Love  - a poem
"Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.
Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure
.
It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us.
We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?
Actually, who are you not to be?
You are a child of God.
Your playing small does not serve the world.
There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do.
We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us.
It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone.
And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others."

Dinner and Netflix happened and soon again I was alone in my apartment, let with time to think. I was having a tough time again try to wrap my head around all the praise I was receiving or why I had meant so much to so many people. Zach and Dom, that dynamic duo, came through and somehow I was convinced to head downtown. The night was live with rowdy seniors and alumni reliving their glory days. Warm, moist, and full of cheer - the night raged on as we hit the bar and just talked. Hours flew by and soon it was 2AM.  I was to be up in 5 hours getting ready for my graduation. Morning came way too fast and I woke to the sounds of Will knocking at my door that my friend Sam, and sister, Bianca, were waiting for me. We were supposed to be lining up in 3 minutes by the library and I was just starting to get dressed. Zach fixed my back and helped me put on all the regalia, cords, and stoles. And with that we were off, pretty much running to make the main ceremony procession. Quick hugs and our director of student life, Pat, tapping his watch like the White Rabbit from Alice in Wonderland stuck out for me as I ran to join whoever I saw first. It was something phantasmagorical much like a movie for sure. My buddy Shawn was near the front and I cut in front of him as the line started moving. Me, perpetually late as always. There I was, one last time.
Soon we were walking to the bag pipes and drums, and down we went sitting. Speech after speech, I listened intently hanging on to each and every word trying to glean as much meaning as I could. Class speakers in Ben and Aya represented us well with wise words and witty jokes followed by the Governor Shumlin, Provost Rosowsky, President Sullivan, and others. The ones that stood out to me most were the Board heard powering feminism forward and addressing our predominantly female graduating class. We came to the main speaker, NPR correspondent and legal extraordinaire, Nina Totenberg who had the crowd laughing with allegorical references in gendered poems she penned for us. She spoke about our need to think for ourselves and to chase down the truth. Hear from the opposition, and take it into consideration instead of listening to ourselves constantly. Her words rang out loud and clear and touched me. Powerful, potent, and poignant did her admonishments to think for ourselves hit me. All of a sudden we had arrived to the end of the ceremony with senior awards being announced. I sat quietly and had my heart leap each time one of my amazing classmates went up to receive the honors they deserved. In a moment I heard the provost call my name. Me, of all people. I was shocked, flabbergasted, and floored. I walked to the front of the stage and ascended the stairs. This was really happening. I was selected as one of the outstanding senior leaders from the UVM class of 2015 - the highest honor a student can receive. I just kept thanking God and muttering to myself how I couldn't believe this was all real. There I stood in front of thousands of people holding back tears and smiling way too big. I was surrounded by important people, family, and friends. They had outdone themselves. I was proud but more so thankful. My award was not for me but for everyone who had allowed me into their lives and done the same for me. I believed myself to be outstanding because I had a support system that believed me to be. One last time I had achieved greatness.
Cameras, flashing lights, cheers, and handshakes went around as I returned to my seat as if I was waking up from a fantasy. Our degrees were conferred and we tossed our caps in the air. We had actually done. We had graduated college. We were among a privileged 6% of the world's population and were tasked with believing that we could change the world and doing so. We were charged with finding the truth and making it known. We were made to believe in ourselves and others just like so many had done for us. More pictures, congrats, and soon it was time to line up for my college ceremony. The seven religion majors took a selfie and walked in the process. Name after name was called until it was our time. We were definitely a quirky bunch but some of the most memorable ones. I took a snapchat selfie on-stage because it was one of those once in a lifetime moments I wanted to remember forever. The crowd elated with roars for me and it was over. One more cap toss and my empty diploma case was in hand. I found my family and introduced them to some of the people who had seen me through my college years like my first roommate Patrick and his wonderful family and my friend Isora who always held me down when I needed it most. Inside Waterman we went and there was President Sullivan alone unlocking his office and hugging me one more time for good measure. It was those quiet moments that made the biggest impression from the weekend. Upstairs we went for my major reception where my professors spoke volumes about me and convinced my parents that I was actually a good student. They sold them on my major and career choice which was exactly what I needed. Hours later I was exhausted as we walked home. My parents were just quiet muttering under their breath to God how much He had blessed me and how glorious this day had been. I don't think any of us were prepared for what had occurred. It was nothing short of miraculous. I had become a testament to the power of belief, love, and truth. It had all ended here.
video
 
We went for a dinner outside of Burlington and I started crying uncontrollably at the table. I couldn't hold it in anymore. I missed my three brothers, sister-in-law, and niece who hadn't been able to attend. The love that people had expressed towards me was too much. My heart was overflowing with love. My soul had been filled beyond the brim. I was so loved. I don't know why and I do all at the same time. I couldn't believe it and I could. I was happy, I was so damn happy. We ate and said our goodbyes as I went home alone again. I just sat letting tears stream down my face - my joy couldn't be contained. I didn't know how to express it. There was so much I wanted to say to so many people. So many thank you's that I needed to get out. I took to social media and poured it out. Soon Will, Lisa, and Derrick arrived and we talked about our wild days in the sun. Graduation weekend had really come to a close. It had all ended here. This was a weekend I would absolutely never forget. The feelings and memories are some I would carry with me for the rest of my life. And here I say thank you. This blog is the documentation of my college story, and you all have been avid readers. Thank you, you helped me through as well. Thank you for allowing me to tell my story here. It all ended here.
My blog post question for the day is ... what is your light? Mine has to be the empathy I strive to demonstrate with people. Understanding them is what me my greatest power, that is my ability to love and love freely.

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