Sunday, June 5, 2022

High School Graduation

Kai's graduation was last week. Graduations are always huge milestones, but for us it was especially meaningful due to the challenges that Kai overcame to get to this point. Throughout the time that Kai was in elementary and then middle school, he had attended therapeutic schools. Getting to attend our community's high school was always the dream, but it often seemed unlikely that Kai would make it.

But four years ago, we were surprised and happy when Kai was allowed to attend our local high school. He was very grateful for the opportunity, and was motivated to succeed.

Going from a small therapeutic school to a large mainstream school was definitely an adjustment, but Kai seemed to do okay through the first two years, albeit with a lot of ups and downs, and with the support of the wonderful special ed staff.

But toward the end of his sophomore year, the pandemic hit and remote learning was especially difficult for Kai. His junior year was very challenging and when he got off to a rough start in his senior year, we thought that he might have to return to a therapeautic school.

But Kai was able to overcome his anxieties and other challenges, again supported by the staff at school. He matured. And persevered. And had his best year at school.

And so this graduation day was symbolic of not just a passage of time, or a coming of age, but of overcoming adversity and hope for a brighter future.

* * * * *

For a while, we were not sure that my wife would be able to attend this momentous occasion.

She had to go to Japan following her father's passing. With no siblings, it was all her responsibility to settle her father's estate as well as to find a place for her mother to live where she would be supported. To do this while stricken with grief is never easy, and being away from her family added to the stress.

My wife wasn't sure how long it would take to accomplish everything she needed to do. Settling legal matters can take time in Japan and for a while it looked like she could be there for three months. But she was able to get things done quicker than first expected, and made it home seven weeks after she left, and just short of two weeks before Kai's graduation.

Kai and I managed at home but it was a happy day when Mom finally came home and we were reunited.
The graduation ceremony was held at Ravinia, an outdoor concert venue in our community. The forecast had called for rain but it turned out to be a beautiful day.
It was exciting when the graduates made their entrance and we saw Kai among them. We enjoyed all of the pomp... the school orchestra and chorale sounded good and the speeches were nice (and not too long).

But, of course, the moment we waited for was for the graduates names to be called and for them to walk across the stage to receive their diplomas.

It was nice for us that Kai was one of the first names called.

The rest of the ceremony was a bit of a blur. We caught up with Kai afterward.

I was wondering what his mood would be. Would he have gotten agitated that the ceremony was long? Did he think it was meaningful?

It was so nice to see that he was as happy and proud as we were. He had understood all that he had overcome to get to here and it meant so much to him.

We are not sure what the future will bring. But at this time, we enjoyed marking this most significant milestone.


  1. Congratulations to Kai on his outstanding achievement! I love the picture of Kai and Rika reunited at the airport. Despite the masks, I can see the huge smiles on both of your faces!

  2. Thanks, Chris! Yes, it was a happy reunion at the airport and you can see it right through the masks!

  3. Always remember that you did this because you wanted it enough. The same will be true with the rest of life. If you want something badly enough, you will do whatever it takes to accomplish your goals. You are well on your way to a deeply happy life. Congratulations, Kai. Always remember the pride you felt walking across the stage to receive a hard earned award, and know that there will be plenty of other such moments in your future.

  4. The above comment was from me...shiroitora. I couldn't sign in under my normal name for some reason. Anyway, I have been following your adventures in life for over ten years.

  5. Thanks, Shiroitora. We will use these positive milestones to remind Kai of what he can accomplish in life.


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