Working on a Dream




Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Reaching my Destination: A lesson in Perseverance.

It was Saturday, May 5th, 4 p.m. and I was sitting at Geneva College's graduation ceremony. 

What people saw was a huge smile, exuberance if you will, on my face...
Among the people in attendance were my lovely wife and two parents. 
Sitting right next to me were my classmates.

What was not visible to the human eye was what was going on in my heart and mind at the time. 
Like a tidal wave, my son Anthony's memory was pressing upon my chest.
Something was wrong with the day...
He wasn't there.  This emotion was like a thick could hanging over me and I knew that if I gave into my emotions; I would have broken down to the point of no return.

Many of you know about the terrible passing of my son last January.
What many of you do not know is that I was smack dab in the middle of the MSOL program.
And I had a choice to make:
Do I go on?
Or better yet, can I go on with the program?

Many in my Cohort were wondering the same thing, and the majority of them thought that they would not see me enter that classroom again. 

But I did.

It has been said,"When you reach the end of your rope, tie a knot in it and hang on." Trust me, I was grasping desperately onto the last thread of my rope hanging on for dear life.  More clearly stated, looking back, I know that it was Jesus that was hanging on to me rather than the other way around.   

Only a handful of people watched me during the 9 days of immense struggle with my son. 
If you were there, you would have seen that I had my computer with me and was communicating with my professors to make plans on how I could catch up with the rest of the Cohort so that when I come back home, I could seamlessly enter back into the class and not miss a beat.  This meant special meetings with professors outside of class and other hoops that I had to jump through just to stay in the program. I did all of this in the middle of tragedy.  Let me tell you something, tough times reveal ones character, so if you are waiting around to start living right, please start right now because when the storms is too late.  It has been said that the strongest metal goes through the hottest fires and I was in the middle of a white hot volcano erupting like nobody's business.   

There are some important lessons that I learned over the years in the MSOL program, many of them are here in my blog, Working on  a Dream.  But one that I feel like I need to highlight is the importance of perseverance

Persevering is perhaps one of the highest virtues, because this is what separates many people from reaching their goals.  Persistence is connected to your belief in yourself and your dreams.  And trust me, you will meet many along your journey that do not believe in either your dreams or yourself.  Persevere my friend.  I have faced doubters, haters and rotten people all along the way and I kept on keeping on.  People often attribute finishing two Master Degree Program's with being smart, but I like to think my hard work was just as, if not more vital to finishing the program.  I like to tell people that perseverance is putting one foot in front of the other, every day, whether it's sunny or gloomy outside; whether you feel up to it or not.  One day, after perhaps a thousand steps, you will be standing right in front of your goal, face to face with success.   

This brings me full circle, back at that auditorium, standing at Geneva College last Saturday. 
There was something missing.
Anthony should have been there.
I kept on sitting there imagining him in my wife's arms watching daddy from the audience.
Just that thought alone is enough to shatter someones heart into a million pieces...

But instead of folding, I took a page right out of my son's book. 
--I fought.
I persevered.  In the words of Winston Churchill, "If you are going through hell, keep going." And that I did.
I pushed past what would have leveled the average person and walked right across that stage like a triumphant victor. 

Anthony, my son.

You came right in the middle of the MSOL program and only stayed with me 9 days. Many counted me out afterward -but I took a page right out of your book and fought to the end.

Somewhere over the rainbow

Way up high,

There's a land that I heard of

Once in a lullaby.

Somewhere over the rainbow

Skies are blue,

And the dreams that you dare to dream

Really do come true.

Someday I'll wish upon a star

And wake up where the clouds are far

Behind me.

Where troubles melt like lemon drops

Away above the chimney tops

That's where you'll find me.

"I can do all things through Christ that gives me Strength." 
Philippians 4:13 

1 comment:

Ann Mullen said...

Please remember, Anthony, as you stand at the start of the rest of your journey that Anthony, Jr. is probably a missionary for Christ among those in spirit prison. He was such a valiant spirit that he only needed his body before he could move on. It wasn't your baby who you imagined in Christen's arms, it was your adult son watching over you. Congratulations on persevering.--Annie