Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: FINISH (05/26/16)
TITLE: Moving Forward, Looking Back
By Ken Grant
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Jennifer's ears perked up as she watched the boy from across the street receive his diploma, smile, shake the hand of the principal, and walk off stage. Jorge truly appeared to be happy. Why couldn't she feel that way? Couldn't she at least fake it?
Jennifer started as the girl sitting to her left jumped to her feet and followed the path just trod by Jorge. Jennifer knew that she was next. What could she do? She spun in her chair nearly toppling over, but she didn't care. She searched the sea of people for one face. She had to find it and she had to find it now.
As her name was read there was a sudden movement and the face Jennifer so longed for popped into view. Her mother's beaming smile carried toward her like a beacon that sprung Jennifer to her feet. She felt like she was floating as she approached the stage and received her diploma.
The interaction was a blur. She began to shift her tassel, but immediately knew that she couldn't. Only one person had the right. Only one person was responsible for her being where she was. Jennifer made a sudden move and headed straight for her mother. She didn't care about the ceremony. She didn't care about what anyone else thought. She only cared for her hero. She only wanted to honor the woman that saved her life.
"What's going on, honey?"
"I want you to do it, mom."
"Move my tassel."
"Aren't you supposed to do it?"
"You've earned it, mom. You know you have."
Jennifer was shocked to see her mother's smile turn to a shower of tears. She wondered if she had messed up this situation like every other thing in her life. She thought back to the day when she had decided to run away. She was packed and on her way out, but her mom had caught her. Instead of being mad her mom had broken down and asked for forgiveness. Her mom had promised to be a better mom. Her mom had told her that together they would make it to the end. That one moment had changed everything. In that moment her mom became her hero.
"I am so proud of you."
Her mom's words filled her soul.
"I love you, mom."
Her mom reached forward and moved the tassel from the left side to the right side of Jennifer's mortarboard. The tears stopped and a huge smile replaced it. Every person in the room began to clap at first slowly and then in a crescendo that took Jennifer's breath away. Commencement was both an ending and a beginning, but for the first time she had truly succeeded.
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