High School Graduation 

Basil Burke and Me, High School Graduation
We are approaching another milestone in the first year following my husband’s death in July. My daughter graduates from High School tomorrow, then it’s Father’s Day, then the anniversary of his sudden heart attack in July. 

Navigating the emotional minefields has not been easy. After my father died when I was nine, he became a topic that was officially off limits, unless you wanted to hear my mother say, “stop feeling sorry for yourself, ” or ask, “can we please talk about something else?” 

He was not discussed, as a general rule.  In the same way, a curfew or saying please and thank you, would be nonnegotiable.  It simply was not done.  

Recently, my younger daughter asked me, “so, how do you know your father was such a great guy?” 

One night when I was in college, my mother and I had a few drinks, we didn’t do this often, as we weren’t friends, and I didn’t voluntarily spend much time with her then, but she told me, “your father was a bastard,” and I remember thinking, here it comes; the lies, the cheating, the marital discord, but instead she said, “he would bring people home after work and make chili.” 

I asked her, “The worse thing he ever did was make chili?”

Yes. Chili.  This was an offense because mother had already prepared dinner, and she was not in the mood for company. To be so blessed with mundane difficulties, and to remember them some twenty years later, under the influence of alcohol, no less.

For my own children, keeping the door open to talk, and allowing them to feel both the sorrow and the joy of these fleeting days, has been paramount in my mind. 

It’s even possible, it is the most difficult thing to do, as it requires perfect tenderness and precision. 

When I graduated from high school my Uncle Basil and Auntie Deb were there. I remember it as a day void of joy, sadly, even though I loved and appreciated them both coming. 

Basil died when he was forty two, of a brain tumor.  I was in my mid-twenties and it left me with the feeling that everything I love dies.  It took the birth of my children and ten years with my husband to get over this feeling, and now I am here once more. 

I’m working on understanding that everything works together for our good, but sometimes, even though I know it to be true, it’s hard to believe. 

Love and blessings to all. 

2 thoughts on “High School Graduation 

  1. Sydney, every time I read your blog, I am reminded how much you and I have in common. I knew you through school and then through DJR, and although we were just acquaintances, I looked up to you as you always seemed poised and confident. I too, lost my father to Vietnam, at the age of 5. I did not know him well, and for many years, I only heard of the marital discord from my mother, also someone who imbibed. I did however, grow up with a loving step-father, who is a saint and now my rock as we get through this first year without mom.

    I married a man 10 years my senior, had two girls with him and then things did not work out. Through our divorce, and for reasons I would only understand later, he ended up with custody of them. 12 years later he passed suddenly, and I inherited two grieving teenage girls, who grew up thinking school was an option and their self-esteem crushed, as was mine at the end of our marriage. It was rough, and they still cannot talk about him much, but children are resilient, even in their teens.

    I guess I want to say is, you too are resilient, and your poise and confidence are very apparent. Blessings to you and your girls. You will all come through this stronger and wiser.


    1. Thank you for sharing your story with me. I know everyone has their sorrows, and in many ways, or even most ways, I have been more than blessed. Condolences on the passing of your mother, but I’m happy you were able to have a wonderful step-father and have a second chance with your daughters. Thank you for reading my work, and being a part of my journey. Love and blessings to you and your family 🌸💕


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