This morning I woke up in the most ridiculously good mood. It was at this ludicrously early hour too – something like 5:30. That’s an hour when all sensible people ought to be either fast asleep or crankily awake nursing large mugs of coffee. Instead I was bounding out of bed, unable to close my eyes even one second longer, all bright eyed and, well, not bushy-tailed. That just sounds gross. But I was absurdly cheerful. And then I ate a little breakfast and headed out into the world. The sunrise was still blushing the horizon, a heavy dew made everything look glossy and magical, and without realizing it I was singing Ella Fitzgerald standards in my head. If I had been in a musical that was the point when the cast of thousands would have started filling in the street behind me, singing along in four-part harmony that somehow did not drown me out as I triumphantly sang my way towards my destiny. And, no, that didn’t happen. But boy, it was a great morning.
I’m done with school. Not forever-done, but for now. All done. No papers due, no extensions on projects, nothing. Done. I’m not taking classes this summer either, so I have an actual summer break ahead of me. I know, it’s amazing. I haven’t had one of those in… in… years. Many years. I’ve been taking classes all year round with no break for a long time. I’m really tired. Plus, last year was kinda rough. I need a break. So I’m taking one. One whole glorious summer, all mine! Time to garden. Time to read completely unnecessary books. Time to (gasp!) hang out with my friends. Time for everything, and no sick feeling in the pit of my stomach that no matter what I choose to do, there are three other urgently necessary things I should be doing instead. I’ve been on break precisely one day and a half (since I turned in the last paper Saturday evening), and already I feel so light I almost think I could fly. Don’t get me wrong. I love school. Really, I do. But I’ve gotten so tired. This summer I’m taking a break.
Here’s the other amazing thing: Saturday morning Johnsy graduated from UD with her MA in Biology. She walked across the floor of UD Arena to receive her diploma. Yeah, you read that right. Walked. This was the first time she’s walked in public in two years, since the day her legs decided not to work anymore and she fell over into a bookshelf in the biology department hallway. She had been struggling with a neurological disorder stemming from a skiing injury a couple of years earlier, but being the person she is, she didn’t cut herself any slack. When I met her she was walking with a cane, on heavy pain medication, beginning the doctoral program at UD, and had just bought a house which she intended to renovate herself. And then her legs quit completely, and she ended up in a wheelchair.
After some trials and tribulations (including the doctors who tried to tell her it was all in her head, or came up with even more bizarre diagnoses), Johnsy found a doctor in Florida who could help her. He’s the doctor who literally wrote the book on her disorder. She started intensive physical therapy, and switched some of her medications. Little by little she’s been getting the use of her legs back, though they’re far from reliable, and she pays a high price in pain every time for using them. Still, she’s one of the most determined people I’ve ever known. A while ago she decided that she was going to walk to get her diploma. She kept it secret from a lot of people, including the biology department that refused to help her, that did its best not to give her a degree. When the time came, she did it, quietly, with a minimum of fuss, her favorite priest holding her arm on one side, and tightly gripping her cane with the other hand. It was graduation, and Johnsy walked.
God is good.