Kelli Kathryne Truesdale, BSN

This weekend was Kelli’s college graduation weekend.  We’ve enjoyed the pomp and circumstance, we’ve held parties with family and friends, and watched as our daughter gracefully moved through it all.   Yet, I’m left restless tonight — something unfinished.

I’ve hugged my daughter longer and tighter than most other days. I’ve told her how proud I am, and how much I love her, but I’ve mostly told her, “there are no words.”  My emotions so deep, I can barely begin to speak, and when I do, I’m left with those words being completely inadequate.

When Brady died, I learned, not so quickly, that sometimes, there truly are no words available to match the depth, magnitude and sincerity of the emotions one experiences in times of tragedy.  This weekend I learned, that the same holds true for the celebratory moments of joy.

But still, restless. How can I leave this weekend behind without first giving it the ‘ol college try, to convey what I’m feeling.

pride /prīd/ — a feeling or deep pleasure or satisfaction derived from…the achievements of those with whom one is closely associated…

This doesn’t really capture what I’m bursting with, but ya, I’m definitely proud.  I’m proud because this wasn’t easy for KK.  We can start with a later than typical decision to enter the nursing program.  Some people know right away, others need to rule things out, explore options, and just get the footing of college.  The result, an extra couple years of education.

And then of course, there’s Brady.   Kelli started what was to be a grueling semester of nursing classes a week after he died.  I think we all knew this wasn’t going to pan out, but she gave it a go.  With the help of some special people at PLNU, and the support of her family, Kelli decided it would be best to delay those nursing courses for a year.  But she didn’t just abandon school, she kept things moving forward with classes towards an education degree, just in case.

So.  Seven years of school. Yep, seven years. I never made it further than 2 years of college, so while some people look at seven years as failure, I look at it with great admiration.  That’s a lot of studying, a lot of early clinical’s, a lot of organizing.

But pride in her persistence pales compared to my pride in how she has grown.  At 5′ 2″, Kelli isn’t the tallest, but she has never stopped growing.  And now she has, as they say, found herself.  She knows now what she believes in, what is important to her.  She knows the value of finding people to connect with — we can’t do life alone.  She figured out what works for her, despite what might work for others.  She has always been my amazing daughter, just for being, but she exits college an amazing person on her own merits, as her own person.  I was told after Brady died that if I would be open to them, gifts could be received.  These gifts are not easy to accept, but yes they are there.  Kelli emerging from a very large big brother shadow, is one such gift.  Kelli would gladly go back to living in that shadow, but that is not a chapter in Kelli’s story we will ever get to read.  Kelli moves forward now as the big sister to three, and the little sister of an angel.

love /ləv/ — an intense feeling of deep affection.

Again, not even close.  But oh the love I have for this child.  This one I won’t even attempt to explain, it is pointless.  I’ve read some pretty great poems on the topic, and they come close, but no words, or even those 1,000 word pictures, can describe the emotion of love for one’s child.

grateful /ˈgrātfəl/ – feeling or showing an appreciation of kindness; thankful.

Okay, clearly I need a different dictionary as these definitions I’m pulling are so dry!  But I am so grateful for the amazing role models Kelli has in Pauka and Conni – each bringing their unique contributions to raising Kelli, always grounded in love.  I’m also grateful for the PLNU community that nurtured and supported my daughter, not just educated her.

sad /sad/ – feeling or showing sorrow; unhappy.

So this one has been stirring in me the whole week, but I didn’t realize it until a couple days after graduation.  But of course, there is an huge element of sadness in all this.  My daughter is growing up, and while that is exactly what I always wanted, it still hurts.  It is another transition of our relationship together.  Without such transitions, we’d both be stuck and  uncomfortable as the years moved along.  But these milestones help us to gracefully close chapters, while opening new.

The pinning is complete, and graduation in the books, but of course with every end is a new beginning.  There’s this little matter of the NCLEX, and then entering the workforce.  So much ahead, so very much lies ahead, but today we celebrate you Kelli Kathryne. Your future patients, and their parents, are very lucky.

I love you, and I’m so very proud of you,


–Your Dad


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