Blogging in E minor
Usually just a bunch of silly crap.

Defiant Triumph

Darius was lucky to be alive.

            Only a week earlier, he was hanging out with friends on a convenience store parking lot when the occupants of a passing car opened fire on them. Darius took a round in the back.

            He was rushed to the hospital and underwent emergency surgery. The bullet was lodged in his kidney and would need to be extracted. Before all was said and done, he would lose part of his liver, his gall bladder and the affected kidney.

            Fate was seriously messing with him. Only a  few days before the shooting, Darius had escaped serious injury while in a car accident.. He pondered whether he was extremely lucky or unlucky as his flow of thought got sidetracked to something totally irrelevant as the result of the medication that continually befuddled him.

            Having just been released from the hospital that morning, Darius was awaiting his graduation, sitting in a wheelchair beside his father, wearing a black cap ‘n’ gown. They had found a somewhat isolated spot away from the flurry of activity occuring in the crowded high school hallway.

            “Darius! We are so glad you could make it!” his principal exclaimed with an outstretched hand. “How are you doing?”

            They discussed how Darius and his wheelchair would be integrated into the commencement ceremony. The principal guided them through meandering hallways to a narrow stage door, through which Darius would barely fit.

            A teacher who would be backstage was included in the planning as they looked out at the large crowd gathering before them. The principal pointed out where they would sit during the ceremony, then guided them out of another backstage door on the opposite wall. “We will make this work,” he assured them.

            As Darius and his father waited by the main entrance to the auditorium, he reflected upon his high school career. He had been kicked out of a military school only to end up at a dysfunctional charter school that did little to meet his academic needs. Darius recalled how he had made the football team despite being the smallest guy on the squad, only to be cut for poor grades. His whole life in recent years had been an unending series of challenges and disappointments.

            Then earlier in the current school year, his mother enrolled him in an alternative school that gave him the opportunity to make up for lost time. Just as things seemed to be looking up for Darius, the rug had been pulled out from under him once again. Nevertheless, he was out of the hospital with a favorable prognosis and ready to join his high school class at graduation. His mother and other family members waited anxiously inside.

            After a seeming eternity, the graduates came up from their basement staging area to line up at the auditorium doors. Classmates and teachers greeted him, shook his hand or hugged him as they saw him. “You lost so much weight!” one girl observed.

            As the muffled din of Pomp and Circumstance permeated the auditorium walls, the long line of graduates filed into the rear entrance, greeted by a cheering crowd. Darius and his father waited on until the end of the line appeared, then joined in as instructed.

            A swell of applause greeted the young man as his father pushed him in his wheelchair down the middle aisle of the spacious, antique venue. They made their way to the front right corner where they were asked to sit.

            The array of dignitaries, guests and speakers seemed a blur to Darius, who struggled through his medication for presence of mind. Then suddenly, his fellow graduates stood up to the delight of the crowd, and began moving towards the stage. His father then pushed him up one of the crowded aisles, fighting against the flow of traffic, toward one of the exits.

            One-by-one, the jubilant graduates strutted, sashayed and sauntered across the stage as their names were called. They posed for a pictures as they received their diplomas from the Board of Education President, then shook hands with the folks in the receiving line that stretched across the remainder of the stage.

            Finally, after nearly 100 names were called, Darius’ name echoed through the expansive chamber. He emerged from a slit in the side curtain, received by a deafening roar of cheers as he was rolled across the stage.

            His father stopped a few feet short of the Board President. Darius rose slowly, then walked tentatively — weakly, yet defiantly — the few steps necessary to seize his diploma. Time stood still as he proudly and triumphantly inched his way along, moving from person to person to shake receptive hands. The onstage dignitaries seemed to prop him upright and pass him from person to person as the applause buoyed him encouragingly.

            No, he wasn’t supposed to be walking. His doctors had prohibited it outright. Nevertheless, he and his father had decided earlier that he would not let his condition keep him down. Darius’ mother and family stood proudly with tears in their eyes as he made his way across the stage.

            While Darius had been making his way across, his father had wheeled the chair behind the receiving line to meet him on the other end. He helped the graduate back into his chair, then rolled him the remaining distance to the other backstage door, held open by the teacher. One last swell of applause arose as they disappeared behind a side-stage curtain. Teary-eyed spectators, inspired by the proceedings, plopped back into their seats.

            As Darius’ father pushed him through the labyrinth of hallways through the ancient, expansive building, neither man spoke. The father finally broke the silence, “That was really nice,” he said. Then, “I’m proud of you, son! We’ll get through this, okay.”

            Darius nodded. He was drained from the experience and subdued by the heavy medication; but at some level, he was high-fiving his old man, satisfied with his defiant triumph over this most recent adversity.

            He opened the book-like object in his hands to gaze at his diploma. Darius spotted his name within the ornate calligraphy and scanned the document until he found the word “graduate” among all the other fancy letters. He had no idea what the future would hold, but for today, everything was just as perfect as it needed to be.

            As they rounded the last corner to turn into the main hallway, they were accosted by loud, gleeful shrieks: “Darius! My baby! I’m so proud!” His mother led the charge of family members to congratulate him. They surrounded Darius and hugged, kissed and patted him as he sat overwhelmed in his chair. “You looked so handsome up there!” she continued.    

            The muffled clamor of the ceremony within the auditorium continued as the small herd of relatives followed the young man in the wheelchair towards the elevator. Despite having been scared out of their wits and emotionally drained over the past week, they were nothing but jubilant at this very moment.

            The doors to the small, overcrowded lift slammed shut, sealing the joyful, beaming faces within.

            Just then, more than 100 ecstatic graduates emerged from the rear entrance of the auditorium and filled the hallways, jumping, shouting, dancing and celebrating. They were followed by friends, family and loved ones as the elation spilled out the high school doors, across the vast lawn, into the surrounding neighborhoods, then out to the far reaches of the city. Each and every family had its own story of personal triumph to tell and had cause to celebrate tonight!


One Response to “Defiant Triumph”

  1. That was a moment to remember. I enjoyed the graduation and the celebration afterwards with all the staff!

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