Graduation is supposed to be a time of joy, but it can also be used to reflect.
That’s what one student is doing after she lost both of her parents during her time in college. Sequoia Smith, who will be graduating this spring from Lamar University took to Instagram to share her story.
17 years old, I remember my mama just hugging me and crying. She told me my dad passed away. Less than three months away from getting my HS diploma. I walked across that stage with my head held high, knowing that though he wasn’t physically there... he was still watching. 19 years old, roughly 2AM. After DAYS of not sleeping and having to watch my mom suffer. I was alone at hospice with her, watched her take her last breath... This was TEN days after getting my Associates Degree. My mom had stage 4 cervical cancer and she fought her BEST fight. Seems like weeks, months even years passed by and it didn’t seem real that my parents were gone. Sometimes, it still doesn’t. This picture is apart of my testimony. When my mom passed, I took time off from school and completely cancelled the idea of going back. I felt so numb and detached from the world. Time kept passing and I knew I had to go back. 25 years old... As long as it took to FINALLY get this Bachelors Degree, I STILL did it. Not having anyone to call or talk to at times. Having to work ridiculous hours to make sure I had bare necessities. Keeping a smile on my face to keep from crying. I STILL did it. One thing I can say is, I’ve grown. My strength overshadows my weakness. I am resilient and powerful. Despite loss, I can and always will overcome adversity. I know that as long as I lean on God’s arm for understanding and guidance, he will lead me in the right direction. My circumstances are far from the best, but I have found ways to make the best of what I have & thank God in the process. I am sharing this to inspire and encourage someone else. No matter WHAT you go through, no matter who you lose... you have to keep fighting. Stay focused and pray every single day, even when things are going well. Losing two people as important as your parents will change you & make you want to give up. Surround yourself with people who will uplift you! People who will pray for you without knowing the demons you’re battling. You will need them & whether you know it or not, they will need you. It is my greatest honor to annnounce that May 11th, I will be walking across that stage & though I may cry, I know they’re smiling.
“Seems like weeks, months even years passed by and it didn’t seem real that my parents were gone. Sometimes, it still doesn’t," Smith captioned in a post featuring a picture of her with her cap and blown up pictures of her parents. “I felt so numb and detached from the world.”
The 25-year-old, according to Yahoo, lost her father to sickle cell anemia shortly after graduating high school. It’s something she mourned for a long time with her mother, who would two years later succumb to cervical cancer not long after the young woman received her associate’s degree.
Smith’s post, during which she admitted to considering ending her educational journey at one point seemed to really touch people. It went viral and garnered her a lot of attention.
“I honestly didn’t anticipate for this to happen,” she told the website. “I wanted my post to get to someone who has experienced what I have to enlighten them. … It just blew up. The amount of messages and comments I’m getting from so many incredible people is well worth me sharing.”
Sequoia Smith also says that it’s been tough up until this point, especially since her loss still affects her to this day.
“Not having anyone to call or talk to at times,” she wrote in her IG caption. “Having to work ridiculous hours to make sure I had bare necessities. Keeping a smile on my face to keep from crying.
“Stay focused and pray every single day, even when things are going well,” she continues. “Surround yourself with people who will uplift you! People who will pray for you without knowing the demons you’re battling. You will need them & whether you know it or not, they will need you."
Photo: Erik McGregor/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images