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Previous Challenge Entry
Topic: Graduation (08/30/04)

TITLE: Twice Promoted: Jason’s Story (Based on a true story)
By Glenn A. Hascall


Jason moved his eyes to take in all those gathered for the occasion. His mother and step-father were seated along with his siblings. A few friends came for the special day and then there were the officials from the school poised to extend their warmest regards.

The most usual part of the ceremony was that Jason was the only one to graduate. Indeed, his class was much larger than one but this was a ceremony specifically for Jason who would graduate in March instead of May.

His mom stepped forward and suctioned out his mouth as the color of his face belied his embarrassment. The tracheotomy tube allowed for breathing but swallowing was futile. Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS - or Lou Gehrig's disease) had taken its toll on the high school senior but this day he would graduate, a diploma would be his and he was grateful.

Jason spotted Chapman in the audience and he remembered being at children’s hospital when the boy came to visit for the first time. While Chapman was much younger than Jason, they developed a fast and fierce friendship. Chapman remembered when Jason could talk. Now the young boy was here to help celebrate with his friend. Jason smiled at his young companion. Chapman grinned from ear to ear.

Money was something Jason’s family had very little of, yet they worked hard to make Jason’s life as positive as possible. An old van had been converted with a hydraulic lift for his wheelchair while friends had gone together to purchase new tires so he could visit a battery of doctors four hours from home.

The oxygen pump kept a steady pace and gave a hint that Jason was breathing. Tears escaped as grand words were spoken by official looking men and a diploma was placed in his lap. Men and women stood and cheered. His mouth curled into a smile as those in attendance saw the futility of trying to keep their own emotions in check.

It was an amazing day and Jason was extremely grateful to everyone for helping to make this graduation so special. If only he could tell them how he felt.

After the ceremony, Jason was wheeled out to the van where he rode the hydraulic lift while his brother locked his wheelchair in place. Then the family began their long ride home.

His brothers and sisters talked about the cake and the reception as well as the boring speeches while mom spoke of the accomplishments he had made. Jason heard everything but could not respond. The diploma rested on his lap and he gazed at the shiny lettering when street lights hit it just right. He imagined running his fingers over the gold embossed letters.

His mind wandered back to childhood days when he ran and played like all the other kids. Being the oldest, he had also been responsible for his siblings until it was clear that something was very wrong with him. He remembered the last time he had spoken with his mom, just moments before they put in his first breathing tube. He gasped for air as he struggled to say, “I -- Love -- You -- Mom!” Then the nurses put in the tube and he was left with a modicum of solace in the knowledge that he had been able to tell the person he loved most just how he felt about her. It was a memory she would hold on to with great tenacity.

Voices continued their conversation but to Jason they were becoming a bit confused, his vision blurred and darkened and then all was quiet for a moment. Suddenly a hand reached out and helped Jason out of his wheelchair. The tracheotomy tube was gone, so was the oxygen and feeding tube. He could walk and in that knowledge he laughed and then stopped as he reached to cover his mouth in surprise. Had that sound actually come from him? What did it mean? Where was he? How had this happened?

“I know you have many questions, Jason,” a soothing voice replied to his unspoken query. “Would it mean something to you if I told you that this is your Graduation Day? Welcome My child, enter into the joy of your Master.”

Member Comments
Member Date
Corinne Smelker 09/07/04
Glenn, it's not fair - you made me cry! It's too early in the morning to cry!

You got my vote buddy!!
Jean Boulmay09/07/04
A wonderful story. I cried thoughout reading it. Absolutely loved both graduations!
shirley shields09/07/04
Wonderful article, thats what we all should hope to hear from our Lord. Thanks for sharing.
Teresa Lee Rainey09/07/04
Glenn, There are now at least three women crying this morning. Jason's story is beautiful.
Teresa Lee Rainey09/07/04
There were only two other comments when I started my first. I was truely moved to tears.
Joanne Malley09/07/04
Wonderful story, but now I need to reapply the mascara! You succeeded at doing exactly what every writers hopes to do...create real emotion.
Well done!
darlene hight09/07/04
Click! Sniff... Oh yeah that was a vote!
Lynda Lee Schab 09/07/04
Sniff..sniff..wipe, wipe...sniff...that pretty much says it all.
Thanks for sharing this amazing story.
Blessings, Lynda
Dori Knight09/08/04
dear glenn ... add me to the list of tear-stained readers. very well done.

my husband works with a man who has als, and we have watched him deteriorate over the past months. the company kept him on as long as he felt able to show up so that he wouldn't lose his health insurance, but finally.

he's at home now, with his young wife and two little boys, trapped inside a non-responsive body, his mind as sharp as a tack.

i hadn't ever known anyone with als before, and didn't fully realize what it was, or the full horror of the disease. your story captured the helplessness perfectly.

i love that you ended it with the scene in heaven - it was comforting to remember that life doesn't really start until we get to heaven.

bless you for being willing to write outside the box.

L.M. Lee09/08/04
nicely done. we lost a dear friend to this disease 2 years ago this past May...He was a mighty saint of God. I know he's happier in heaven, but boy we miss him!
Kristin Slavik09/08/04
Glen - I loved this story. Remind us all of our true graduation in heaven.
Angie Schulte09/08/04
Great story. It is amazing how much that most of take for granted. This life seems so unfair for some, but their reward is greater in heaven. Thanks for sharing.
Roberta Kittrell09/08/04
Glenn, what an awesome reminder of Matthew 6:31-34! Our heavenly Father who had gone ahead of Jason and his family and let them experience what they needed, providing every step of the way, preparing them for the second graduation. How wonderful that he and they knew Him! Bobbi
Rochelle Valasek09/09/04
Linda Germain 09/09/04
If only there were some way to translate that story, that moving picture you painted, to a screen for the parallel universe of scoffers who walk through life beside us, scared the religous "stuff" will rub off on them. Thank you for plumbing the depths of the death experience that leads to real life which begins after HIS hand reaches out and we rise to new promised levels, leaving pain behind. Thank You, Glenn.
Margaret Reed09/10/04
Very good story.
Lucian Thompson09/10/04
Very moving. I am torn between joy and sadness! Well done!
B Price09/12/04
well add my tears to those others who has shed tears.
such a moving story, and I gasp for air when I saw what was fixing to happen. and cried that much more.
What a true graduataion day this was for Jason in both ways...
I'm still crying as I'm reply thinking of this story..
you got my vote.