The Jackson High School graduating class - 2002
Had big grins on their faces now that high school days were through.
One by one their names were called, diplomas placed in hands
While family, friends and parents sat there smiling in the stands.
My daughter was there, too,and I was smiling with the rest.
Each parent there had little doubt that their child was the best
But I had special reasons to sit there and feel proud
As I applauded wildly when they called her name out loud.
Eighteen years ago I stood in operating room
Ready to assist my newborn's exit from the womb.
Natural childbirth was the rage and I was coach, you see
To stand beside and soothe my wife through her delivery.
As soon as she came out I knew things hadn't gone as planned.
There was a large sack on her back I didn't understand.
The doctor said my baby was not normal - there were flaws
Then sat me down to explain what spina bifida really was.
The spine does not form all the way like normal spines will do.
The bladder, kidneys, brain and legs are all affected, too.
He said there would be constant operations, too, and then
He said it was unlikely she would reach the age of ten.
He said she'd never walk - she started walking at age eight.
With braces on her legs, she learned to ride a bike and skate.
She took karate classes, played basketball with neighbor kids
And got mad at the thought of being called an invalid.
I've yet to hear the first time she has asked for sympathy
And never looked at other kids and asked, "Dear God, why me?"
Accepting her life as it is, she goes on every day
Ignoring every obstacle that may stand in her way.
Her life will not be normal, ruled by catheter and shunt
And there will always be mean kids around to call her runt
But she intends to work in day care helping others who
Must fight their battles every day the way she has to do.
So there it is - diploma passed into her waiting hand.
She has a big smile on her face few there will understand.
So please forgive these prideful boastings of a beaming dad...
The girl who should not be alive is now a high-school grad.