A message to my future graduates:
I’ve had your attention for a while now, but after you walk down that aisle, your attention will never again exist for me. So, I’m taking this opportunity to grab it one last time.
You are a blessing. If you don’t know it already, I want you to know it right here, right now. I need you to look at me... all eyes and ears on me... you are a BLESSING. Do you understand how much I mean that? Truly?
You see, during this past year, my job became a breath of fresh air while I’ve dealt with grief and disbelief, bewildered by the depths of depression experienced by mid-life crises. Above and beyond marital stresses and health issues and financial woes—problems bound to burden mid-lifers—I’ve known of four people who not only thought about suicide but succumbed to it. What is happening? Is it the culture? Why such desperation where the only option is to take one's life? Depression can run so very deep, and my heart pains for those who suffer. There are no easy answers. Only questions to an epidemic that has a ripple effect on those left behind as the mourning and reaction, the loss and sorrow, continue to fester. I wish I had words of enlightenment, some kind of inspirational commentary. I don't. But I do have your attention one last time, so I need to use this moment to say something, and here it is: you are a blessing; you make me alive; you make me smile, make my days worthwhile, and I’ll repeat it over and over again until you get it, until I've drilled it into your minds and you believe it. YOU are a blessing. My God, what blessings you are!
I wonder where you’ll be in five years, which college or employer is being blessed with your presence. Wherever you are, I hope you look in the mirror and see what I see today... a blessing.
Fifteen years from now you might be settling down with a career and/or family... more people in this crazy world to embrace you as an integral person in their lives. Those people will be blessed, and if they don’t understand that, feel free to contact me, so I can share my message with them... you are a BLESSING.
And thirty-five years from now? Well, you’ll be middle-aged, facing challenges that might seem too overwhelming to bear. And when you cross a bridge that’s creaking and swaying, readying itself to break and lose strength, I hope you remember my words from the last time I had your attention...
YOU ARE A BLESSING, AND I THANK GOD FOR YOU!