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I’m graduating soon.

When my fellow students are awarded their PhDs, their families come to celebrate with them. They come all the way from Turkey, Australia, and China. Half way around the world. My family lives 500 miles away, not 5,000. But we’re not as close, I guess, and they won’t be coming to my graduation. I won’t be having an open house. The only person in the audience cheering for me will be Mr. Chickadee.

Yeah, it’s a little sad. My in-laws and Grandma are too old for that kind of drive. My brother has no time off or money, even though I know he’d do it if he could. No one can afford to fly. My Dad’s household is half disabled, and traveling anywhere with them is a nightmare. I don’t think they understand how important this event is in my life. Even if they did, I have my doubts that they’d attend. We’re really not that close.

It would be different if Mom were still alive. She would bring Grandma and they would stay for a week. She might even bring my in-laws along too. They’d help me shop for something to wear for commencement and they’d go for long walks in the local parks with me. They’d tell stories about me as a wee person over coffee. The house would ring with laughter enough to last the next couple of years. It would be full to the brim with smells of delicious homemade food that I didn’t have to cook – venison lasagna, pasties, pie made with Michigan cherries. They would be so proud of me.

I know my Dad is proud of me. But my brothers and I were the weekend kids, not his everyday family. Dad doesn’t really know much of anything about my life after age 16. That’s my fault as much as his. We talk a couple times a year; he never asks how my life is going. Whenever I’m in the state, I visit for a few hours, but I’m relieved to escape. They send gifts for my birthday and Christmas, but that’s the only way they know how to show love. I’ve always felt like I was a prize horse that Dad owned and liked to show off, but relegated to someone else to nurture. That kind of pride is hollow. I forgave him years and years ago for being unable to give me what I needed from a father. He couldn’t do it, and I couldn’t ask him to. But at times like these, I wish I had tried a little harder.

We didn’t make any plans for a graduation celebration because we knew no one would come. All the local restaurants are booked up months in advance for all the families that come to celebrate with their graduates. I’m going to a graduation party for one of my colleagues instead.