I graduated under the wrong name. The principal of my, very small (I’m talking a graduating year of 8) college, who knew me personally, read my name out wrong and I graduated as Alexandra Bradbury… not my name.
It didn’t matter, my certificate said the right thing, and I got up on the stage at the right time, shook hands with the right man, posed for my photo and sat down.
Then I burst into tears.
My classmates all gathered around and were trying to console me, telling me that it was ok and everyone knew who she meant, that my certificate was correct and that the name read out didn’t matter. I knew that. And them trying to console me made things worse. See, they thought I was crying because I was a pre-madonna crying because she didn’t get her moment in the limelight under the right name.
I was crying because I had been ambushed.
I had just been hit by a truck of grief. Grief that I, for some reason still unbeknown to me, wasn’t expecting on that particular day. The girl who had written her entire dissertation on grief, devoted a chapter to the notion of emotional and developmental milestones and the effect of their “re-grieving” on children and young people, had been blindsided by her own grief at her graduation day.
Sometimes grief ambushes are simple moments where there isn’t necessarily a reason, but suddenly there is a swell and we have been tossed into the rough seas of grief once again. But often for me, I am most ambushed by times when it is natural to be grieving again, and I just haven’t necessarily expected it to be the case. I think that is the curse of writing and teaching on bereavement, it’s become a little sanitised and theorised.
But even now, 13 years on, and 10 years into writing about it, Grief is still surprising and has the power to ambush me.
Lex xx (Not Alexandra Bradbury)