He Did It!

Dan is about to graduate. Tomorrow. This is the biggest thing in our lives right now. I am so proud of him. I can’t even find words that are worthy enough to escape my brain let alone put them into a blog post, but let me try.

There are so many directions my life took that at the time I thought were the wrong way. I am just now realizing that this path, right now, that we are on, is a good path. It is a long and windy path. It had a few “do not cross” tapes across the way, some scattered stones, some puddles, but man… it just got repaved and it feels good.

Dan’s path to where he is now has been a really long one. I’m not even talking about his health struggles. That feels like a whole different life. Like we were living in a different universe, even. As I sit here and write this, it feels so silly to even say, but I have tears. It’s like, I’ve read other people saying that and truth be told, it sounded dumb to me, so really, it’s okay if me saying it sounds dumb to you. But I’m overcome with emotion trying to even grasp how I am feeling and what I am trying to say and where I am going with it. We have been through so much since Dan began his journey back in 2007. Or was it 2008?

Sometimes he had semesters where he took nothing but art classes because he needed to step back and take a break. If you ask him he still gets mad at himself and will kick himself over those times. But not me. I think about all that time and while I am not at all suggesting anything towards this idea of “fate”, I am led back to thinking about our path. Dan may have had interest in the sciences back then (or even in high school) but he never had this passion or the confidence to want to explore it more in-depth until these latter years.

Ultimately, it was his original plan of nursing school that did lead him to where he is as it required several lower level science courses and with those courses he happened to have a few teachers that were pretty passionate about their subjects and that’s really all it took. There was no turning back. I can’t remember any specific moment where he turned to me and said “this is what I want to do” (I mean, we don’t live in the movies!), but I do remember a series of events where he’d come home excited to share with me what his professor had talked about in this lab or that lecture. He started to get really involved with his lab partners. He got very serious about attendance. He started taking more science courses. When it turned out he took an extra biology class that he didn’t need, he wasn’t even mad. It just started to all click for him.

Dan probably wouldn’t want me sharing this, but he does talk down and get mad at himself for not going to college right after high school. He’s extremely hard on himself and always has been. But then I ask him, “what would you have done if you had gone to college right after high school?” and he doesn’t know. And that’s just the thing. Some people know. They know their whole lives what they want to do and so right out the gates the are ready to go. Others don’t. Maybe those people spend some time in college trying to find it like Dan did. Maybe they get degrees in something they really don’t care about. Maybe they drop out. Who is to say that had Dan gone to college right out of high school he would have had the same discovery that he had 10 years later? Would his interests have been the same? Would his influences have been the same?

I think science found him. I really do. And I am so glad. I like to tease him behind his back about how much of a nerd he is because he watches YouTube videos of guys doing mathematical equations and chemical compounds and scientific discussions with scientific greats like Noam Chomsky and Lawrence Krauss, but truth be told, I’m pretty proud of that. I think it’s pretty cool. He enjoys talking about “smart stuff” and that to me is “cool.” I feel pretty cool standing next to him. And smart. I feel smarter just being in the same room as him. It is actually pretty high up on the attractive scale, too. *hubba hubba*

What’s next for him? We don’t know. When he first set out it was just thinking about a career. What is going to get him (and us) to the top and give us the best life? He now has a pre-med degree and could theoretically even become a doctor if he wanted. However, as his love for science continued to grow, his interest in doing something in the medical field got smaller and smaller. At least in any patient-care sense. He works in a pharmacy now and seeing a pharmacist’s life, he absolutely does not want to go that route.

This last semester he had to make a decision… science or medicine? He had many meetings with his professors and back and forth emails. Finally, his favorite professor boldly encouraged him to go for his doctorate in Biochemistry even if it is going to be a long, hard road. And he’s more at peace with that decision than he’s been with any decision he teetered back and forth with over the last 3 years.

So, as soon as finals are over and he walks that big stage as we all all beam back at him with pride, it is back to the books as he studies for the GRE for graduate school! But not before a little surprise graduation vacation planned by yours truly (which he has NO idea about). :))

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