No Excuses

The call came late at night. I had been on Skype with my boyfriend. I can’t remember what we had been talking about, but at least part of the conversation must have touched on the upcoming end of classes: I was doing a combined law degree and Masters program, and I had a hard exam period ahead. Then came the text from my brother. “Are you awake right now? Can I call you?”

After ending the call with Daniel, I sat at my desk and stared at the wall. I had taped up a piece of paper with my upcoming deadlines: an intensive course that hadn’t begun yet, a total of six essays between all my classes, an exam. My plan to get through it all had assumed I’d be able to get one essay or exam done every third day or so. Suddenly, it didn’t seem like any of it was going to get done. I discovered that I didn’t particularly care.

Then the thought occurred to me: at least I’m not graduating this year. Most of the classmates I began law school with were graduating, but with my combined program I still had a year to go. I knew that, had this been my grad year, my dad would likely have missed it. Depending on the severity, possibly my mom too. I wouldn’t have blamed them. Had it been my grad year, I would likely have wanted to skip Convocation and go see my parents.

Oddly, everybody around me was echoing my internal monologue: you don’t need to finish school this year. You can repeat these classes later. The longest extension the law school would offer for my work was three weeks. After that, I would have to consider repeating classes to avoid failing the semester. People asked if I was going to take time off school. My mentor assured me nobody would blame me for taking a year off.

The only people not echoing this monologue were my parents. They insisted I stay in Toronto to finish at least some of my work before joining them. When I did get to BC and they learned I hadn’t finished my essays, they asked about the deadline and insisted I take time to work on them. For my dad, this meant spelling out the question letter by letter: h-o-w-s t-h-e e-s-s-a-y c-o-m-in-g?

Needless to say, I finished the essays and passed my courses. When registration for the following year began, I enrolled again. I joked to my law school counselor that I hadn’t flown to Vancouver to help my parents at all – they had flown me out there to make sure I didn’t use them as an excuse not to do my homework.

Graduation was this year. Despite the difficulties of traveling as a quadriplegic, my parents were there. Even if they hadn’t been able to come, they would have insisted I attend Convocation and demanded that I make sure to smile at the camera so they could see it on the webcast. I am eternally grateful to have the kind of indomitable parents who would refuse to put life on hold – no matter what. It’s an example I’ll do my best to live up to going forward.