Commencement 2020

Hannah was near the end of her kindergarten year when she joined our forever family. She was overly sweet and an expert at using the nurse pass. Hannah is a survivor and learned early in life to be compliant when adults were around and then frantically work to do anything necessary to take care of herself.

Our hope has always been for Hannah to wholly heal in childhood. Sometimes healing takes a whole lot of not-fine moments. Although her early experiences were vital for her survival, they didn’t give her a lot of experience in functioning in healthy ways. 

Our hope has always been for Hannah to wholly heal in childhood. Sometimes healing takes a whole lot of not-fine moments. Although her early experiences were vital for her survival, they didn’t give her a lot of experience in functioning in healthy ways. 

Last Friday was graduation. It is the definitive marker between childhood and adulthood. We went to the school together, as a family, even though Hannah needed to be there early to practice. She hurried across the parking lot to arrive on time, and I noticed the confidence in which she carried herself. She was sure-footed in her too high heals, she spent time on her hair and make-up, her shoulders were square and she was on her way. 

“Hannah,” I called from across the parking lot, unsure if she would hear me. Unsure if I am ready to let go.

She turned, “Yeah, Mom?”

I held up my camera. “I thought we should get a picture.” Hannah walked toward me. Her smile was genuine. I snapped her photo. 

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There were many nights I knelt beside my bed when I should have been sleeping and the only words on my heart, in my mind, were: Please, please heal Hannah in childhood. There were tears cried into Andy’s shoulder that would likely fill the Great Lakes, and we whispered our mantra, One step closer to healing. There were the times when we let her go because she was so headstrong, and our only choice was to let her do the thing she was determined to do and then be there when things crumbled around her. Take a deep breath, we said. Then, we love you more every time you breathe.

We hoped things would turn out okay.  I had a fair amount of fights with Hope, sometimes slinging the accusation that Hope is a liar. Many times Hope made me feel ridiculous for believing that healing can happen, and giving one more chance, always giving one more chance, just to have one more not-fine moment happen. Yet, always we, Hope and me, became friends again.  

It took me aback, when I saw the photo from the parking lot. She smiles, and it is genuine. We’ve waited so long to see a genuine smile.

She is moving past rewriting a history of hard, walking through a commencement ceremony that was both a literal and figurative journey. She is on the other side. Hannah is now living her healthy, healed and wholehearted life. That is not to say that she doesn’t make mistakes, but it is to say that the grip of the past is no longer something she is continually rewriting. Now she is writing a remarkable and beautiful story by looking forward and following her dreams.

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9 Comments »

  1. HAPPY HANNAH KAYE! I wish her a wonderful, beautiful, positive life! I loved your line – She was overly sweet and an expert at using the nurse pass – because that could have described me as a child. I think many children who experience trauma have an instinct for surviving. The nurse pass was my way of healing, and it worked. I see it worked for Hannah too and that makes me feel so hopeful. Love that smile too! Well done, Hannah. Well done, Ruth and Andy.

  2. I do love seeing the pictures, Hannah grown, growing into the lovely young woman you knew she would be, Ruth. Congratulations to her for her graduation, certainly one to remember in a variety of ways, right? And best of wishes for the future!

  3. What a story of Hannah”s life and there is more to come. What a joy this graduation was! Hannah has the very best role models to follow. Congratulations Hannah!

  4. “She is moving past rewriting a history of hard, walking through a commencement ceremony that was both a literal and figurative journey. She is on the other side. Hannah is now living her healthy, healed and wholehearted life.“. Hallelujah and AMEN! I can’t wait to see what her wholehearted life brings her! Congratulations all around.❤️

  5. The word “commencement” is such an appropriate sentiment for Hannah. Happy Commencement, Hannah! I love the way the photo array captures so many different sides to her. I love the way you and Hope become friends time and time again.

  6. What a joy to read this post, see Hannah’s pics and celebrate her journey. I love the nod to the pandemic with the face mask and TP! Congrats to Hannah and joy as she celebrates and continues moving forward. And congrats to you and Andy! Way to go as helpers for Hannah’s journey to health, healing, and wholehearted living. And now I need to know, what is the book she’s holding? Is it a Margaret Peterson Haddix title?

  7. Oh my GOSH! I love everything about this post. I love the struggle, and your tears and prayers, and Hannah’s journey, and her lovely wonderful genuine smile. It is all incredibly moving and beautiful, and profound and hopeful. Hopeful not just for you all, but for me, and everyone who reads this post. We all have a story, a past, as well as struggles in the present. So absolutely lovely to be reminded, and encouraged, that healing is happening, and hope is for sure present and working.
    Thanks so much for sharing. Congratulations to you all!
    Continued hope, healing, blessings and joy!!!!
    😀
    Molly