On December 19th, in front of my daughter, two of my best friends, my parents, and my sisters in spirit despite the freezing temperatures, I graduated with my bachelors of science.
The journey to this point has been hard and long. I lost my father and one of my best friends within six months of each other. My brother lost his house and I nearly lost the rest of my family. Horrible discoveries were learned and my mother was diagnosed with emphysema. There has never been enough money and more than once I was lectured about the sensibility of going to school vs getting a real job. The state I live in has the worse economy in the US with about as many perspective jobs and at the same time, I couldn't get help with basic needs. I continued to write and gain rejections. Finally publishing something. I put aside all of my other hobbies, allowing them to collect dust while my friends and sisters marched forward with theirs. My hearing loss was finally diagnosed and effects of radiation exposure were felt and finally realized. I have seen friends come and go back and forth to Iraq and Afghanistan doing their duty and I struggle with feelings of guilt that I am no longer serving. The fact that I have a child doesn't matter. So do many of them.
I am the second person in my family to obtain my bachelor's degree. Third if you count my uncle - all of us vets - all of us using the GI bill to go to school. Because of this, the practicality of going to school - especially since I'm a woman - yes my family is that backward - has always been questioned.
From this point forward I am in mostly uncharted territory - I will be the first person in my family with a masters degree and eventually my doctorate (not in medicine though). I am published and will continue to sell and do so. Which now that there is money coming in - writing suddenly is okay and not a time-waster.
One leg of my journey has been completed, but the path before me continues on.
And in the words of Robert Frost -
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all of the difference."