• D.L. Williams

Celebrations and Perseverance

Margie, our daughter-in-law (whom I call my daughter-in-heart) recently graduated with her bachelor’s degree from St. Edward’s University in Austin. This is momentous, in and of itself, but you may applaud all the harder when you learn she is the first in her family to graduate high school and the first to attend college. She plans to continue with graduate school where she will study neuropsychology with an emphasis in childhood emotional trauma. She is a difference-maker, an empowered woman who realizes her own worth and potential, and she is on a trajectory to be her best self.

I mention this out of pride, certainly, but also because this family, like so many right now, missed out on her graduation ceremony. Despite all her effort and mettle, a dangerous virus kept us all home. Over the last year we’ve also missed our youngest son’s graduation because it occurred while he was deployed to South Korea, his wedding was postponed, my mother’s eightieth and our granddaughter’s first birthdays were held by web meeting, our oldest son is doing all his coursework for a paramedic/R.N. program online, and my wife and I put off a long-planned anniversary trip.

Which brings me to a great big, shoulder-shrugging “so what,” because (grand scheme time here) none of that really matters much at all. We’re healthy, we have a home and income, we care about each other unconditionally, and we all live honorable lives. Missed celebrations are part of that new normal we keep hearing about, but let’s not pretend any of this is tragic. Losing good people for unexplained or unnecessary reasons, crippling effects from disease, watching those we love suffer—those are tragedies—and implying our little problems and inconveniences are akin to true misery is just…well…whiny.

This is a nation built by flawed people who have at times made horrible and cruel decisions, but it is also a nation with a heritage of courage and perseverance. Those are the character traits called for now, so that we can recognize and correct past wrongs and continue striving toward our best selves. That brighter future can’t come if we slump in despair, suck our thumbs and go into “poor me” mode. Screw that. We need to channel gallant role models instead of assuming heroes no longer exist. Missing celebrations we earned, following simple rules for the greater good, and adjusting to unforeseen hardship is piffle when compared to the alternative. We will NOT be beaten because that simply isn’t our way.

My sincere congratulations to Margie and Dalton for their significant achievements. Happy birthday to Mom and Daisy. Dalton and Rachel, we’re looking forward to finally having that wedding. (Alas, my tear ducts are pent.) Lane, keep going—the world needs you. Melissa, we'll make it to that beach, promise.

And for each of you, it is my sincere hope you survive and thrive during this rough time. May all your efforts bear fruit, and all your courage see you through. Hug your family for me. D.L.