Seven years ago the vehicle that was carrying me through my life crashed head on into a well hidden road barrier. The damage was substantial, which meant I needed to go shopping for a new mode of transportation.
With much needed help from friends and family, that’s exactly what I did.
This next journal excerpt describes a tiny segment of my car shopping experience, a time I will never forget which was wrapped tightly in a time that was hand crafted especially for me.
Thanks to all of you who kept helping me up and nudged me forward. Words can never sufficiently express my gratitude.
Here’s Page 22.
That last night at the Center was happy and sad and scary for me. I was so glad that I had had the opportunity to go to the Center, and was grateful that such a place existed for folks with life changing events such as mine. I could not have been more happier with the way it all turned out. I did have some internal conflicts with a couple of students in the program, but after remembering the old AA slogans, I returned the focus onto myself and what I needed to do.
I was sad that my time at the Center was ending. It was melancholy and surreal to think that the eight weeks were up, and I had the rest of my life staring me in the face. I was scared as hell at the thought of having to go home and face reality head on. I knew that I would continue to get help along the way, but the safe confines of the Center were tugging at me, ever reminding me that the world was a lot different off campus.
I was very sad to say goodbye to some of the best people that I had ever met. By sharing our likenesses and flaws and hopes and fears together, we grew into a close knit group. I think I grew closer to these people than any other group of individuals in my life.
There were going to be seven of us graduating that next day. It was a rather large graduating group for the Center. Usually there were 1 to three people graduating at one time.
I woke up that morning of November 19th 2010, with an eerie feeling that something close to me was coming to an end. We had a few morning classes until lunch time, but it just didn’t seem the same. I even had a mobility class that morning, and I didn’t mind. It just seemed not to be as much of a deal as I always made it to be.
Matt was heading down to pick me up, and he was going to try and get there to attend the ceremonies. He was also going to try and video tape the event.
As it got closer to lunch time, the whole campus seemed to grow incredibly strange. It took on a different sound, and feeling. After the final class, a lot of us gathered in the fish bowl to sit and chat before we went to the Tech Center where the ceremonies were to be held. They usually held them in the rec room of the main stables building, but with so many of us graduating, it was decided to hold it at the auditorium of the Tech Center.
We sat and chatted and laughed and reminisced about the past few months. I was holding my car that I had made, and it seemed to be getting a lot of attention from the students as well as the staff and administration. I knew that everyone had worked extremely hard on their projects, just as hard as I did on mine. I felt like part of something wonderful. I felt part of a group of people that were in the middle of getting on with the rest of their lives. I felt extremely good and grateful.
Padma, one of the mobility instructors, came into the foyer where the fish bowl is, and told us it was time to proceed to the Tech Center for the ceremonies. We all giggled and laughed and swept our way to the auditorium where we were led to the front of the room and to our seats in the front row. The room was loud and felt a buzz with life. ?There were a lot of family that had come to attend the graduation. I did meet up with Matt on the way to the auditorium. He snuck up behind me and said, “Hay Pops.”, in his usual calm tone. I smiled and hugged him. I was very glad that he was there. It made me feel complete.
Mike Festa, the president of the Center, spoke to the class and the audience to start off the ceremonies. I like Mike a lot. He always made me feel that I belonged at the Center, and that I was going to be ok. He also showed an interest in me and my life. He and I shared a couple of interests. We both liked to garden, and we both liked sports. I did get the chance to help him and Bill build the chicken coop out on the main lawn. I enjoyed that immensely.
After mike gave his announcement speech, he introduced us one at a time. One by one we went up and accepted the certificate, and said a short speech of our time at the center.
As each person went up to the podium, I got a little bit more nervous. I never have been one to like talking to a room full of people, and this was no different.
One by one, the class went up and spoke and told of the hard times and the good times at the center. My turn at the podium finally came, as Mike called my name.
To be continued…