There are a multitude of bummers associated with this stupid disease. And I suppose, were they all stacked in a row, the one I am about to complain of isn't really in the top 10 but it is weighing heavily on me today: I missed Poly's graduation. See when you can't do simple things like get yourself on or off a toilet it makes travel difficult; I can't jump in my car and drive down to Baltimore and stay with any of my friends because I don't have any friends in Baltimore whose houses are wheelchair accessible. Oh yeah, and I also can't drive. Add to that I don't have a plethora of people here in Ithaca that were dying to spend a weekend in 95° heat and humidity to watch a bunch of kids graduate on a football field. To be 100% honest, even I didn't really want to spend my Sunday evening in the Baltimore heat and humidity (and thunderstorms) watching kids graduate, but here's the thing: these are not just any kids. These are the kids who, if you have followed this blog, were featured in the story about me falling out of my wheelchair in front of an entire class. They are amazing people – they are smart, they are funny, they are unbelievably compassionate and today (hopefully) they are all high school graduates.
Bernie was in my first period class and in addition to helping me get up off the floor the day that I unceremoniously fell, he also offered me a brownie after I spilled my water on and immediately destroyed my old computer. Joshua had big plans to become a filthy rich entrepreneur. Rebecca helped me record grades and clean up my classroom for the last two years that I taught. She even spent one of her last summer days before her sophomore year helping me set up my classroom before the school year started (I should also note that she shared her animal crackers with me during her lunch periods, and animal crackers I've decided, are a highly undervalued food). Tran, my genius student who managed to score 100% on my world history final illustrated members of our first-period class participating in World War I on my blackboard. Zhane, who I swear was the loudest 14-year-old I ever met (and that is saying a lot) used to sing songs before 8 o'clock in the morning about "gooses" and seemed impossible to deter despite my obvious irritation with both her decibel level and her inability to correctly pluralize the word goose. I have millions of memories of the class of 2013 and I wish I had time to write down every ridiculous interaction that I had with every student, but I don't. So let me just say that I really wish I could have been there. I miss you all and I hope that each one of you grows into a successful, happy and healthy adult. Keep in touch, and please, for the love of God, will one of you please cure this damn disease?