Saturday, June 16, 2007

The Teenager Graduates from High School

That handsome gent on the far right is my dad. Hmmm....wonder wehre the Teenager got his nose?

And the handsome gent on the left is, who else, Dad-Who-Would-Be-Outlaw. Hmm…wonder where the Teenager got his personality?


My friends knew that, as a single mom of an only son, the Teenager's graduation ceremony would be an emotional experience. The next day, they all asked me questions like, "Are you ok?" and, "Did your mascara hold up?"

In truth, although I cried plenty, I didn't shed a single tear over my son. Nor will I.

Two weeks before the 2007 graduating class of Chaparral High School walked down the aisle to accept their diplomas, one of their classmates, Phillip Vogel died. A popular kid, Phillip went to our church, played hockey, enjoyed rock climbing, and hung out with the same group of kids as my son.

The teenager and I talked about Phillip's death--particularly in light of its cause, street racing. Our pastor discussed the community's loss and the family's sadness at our Sunday evening teen Mass. There was a memorial service. We contributed to an account set up for charitable donations.

We thought we had moved on.

Then came the graduation ceremony.

It began with a eulogy for Phillip. One of Phillip's teachers gave a heart-wrenching speech about living for the moment because we really never know what will happen next. One of his hockey club teammates spoke about how Phillip said he wouldn't change a single thing about his life. It was the longest speech of the night in a stadium filled with 3,000 people, and yet you could have heard a pin drop.

Then, Phillip's parents calmly walked up to the stage and accepted his diploma posthumously.

After that, all any of us could do was honor Phillip's memory and his parent's grace by feeling nothing but happiness and gratitude for all the graduates of Chaparral High.

If Phillip's objective in life was to remind as many people as possible to fully embrace each and every moment, he most certainly achieved it. And I can't help but think that Phillip was looking down and smiling his great big toothy grin someplace in the sky above us. So, for Phillip: Congratulations to the Class of 2007!!


Plantation said...


Am coming to phx july 4-july 15. Maybe we can grab a starbux and catch up.

Anonymous said...

Congrats to you and your son. And what a beautiful tribute to a classmate taken before his time.