To My Favorite Child, On Your Graduation Day

May 26, 2018

Dear Ben,

You’ve attended your last day of high school.

I’m sorry your dad is not here on this big day, to send you off to school with a good breakfast and a cup of strong coffee, not too much creamer…but if he were here I know that’s how he would’ve wanted to start the day with you.

I’m sorry he missed seeing all of your report cards, but I bet he knows how hard you worked even when things sometimes didn’t come easy for you. Your talents and skills are more like mine, and that would totally blow his mind had he lived to see it.

I’m sorry he was not here to answer your questions about women, but I’ve always told you the truth about what makes us tick. I’m super sorry he never met all the beautiful, wonderful girls who have been important to you. He would’ve been very proud of your choices in girl-friends and in girlfriends, and impressed with the qualities you find important in women. I certainly am. I sure loved them all, and most girls want a boy’s mother’s approval anyway.

I’m sorry Dad wasn’t the one to teach you about the realities of harsh consequences, but I was just as capable of making you answer for your mistakes like a man, and I think I did.

I’m sorry I was the one who had to drive you and your lawnmower to cut grass, but you learned your work ethic from me anyway, so it was fitting. I hope you inherited your dad’s ability to save money though, as opposed to mine.

I’m sorry I was the only one of your parents to watch you swim, and I tried to be careful not to scream too loud. I think Dad would’ve screamed his head off though, if he’d been there, and he would have clapped and rubbed his hands together in excitement when you raced. I know you can hear him and see him in your head doing this right now, just like I can.

I’m sorry I went through your texts and tracked your phone sometimes, but I promise you, your dad would’ve done the same thing if he’d been here. We always backed each other up like that. Except for when you needed a spanking. He could never spank you. He couldn’t take it, so I always had to be the one to do that.

I’m sorry you were the kid who didn’t have your dad at all the things where you needed your dad, but look at all the other dads who wanted to be in your life because of it.

I’m sorry you lost your favorite fishing buddy, but you are ten times the fisherman your dad was at your age, and he would be beside-himself-proud knowing that. That’s not an accident, kiddo, and you can’t fight those genetics.

I’m sorry you sometimes felt like you had to grow up too fast, but look how independent you are now. You’ve been a grown man for half your life. It’s one of the things about you I love most.

I’m sorry he was not here to help you tie your ties for Homecoming and for Prom, but I tied his for him anyway. I’m not sorry at all that you look just like him, but trust me when I say – those green eyes of yours – that’s all me. You are just as handsome as he was and when I see you, I see him. It’s remarkable, actually. But you know that already.

I’m sorry Dad can’t take you off to college, but he made sure there was enough money for you to go, and that changed everything for both of us. I pray you will take care of your children the way he has taken care of you.

I’m sorry your dad doesn’t know what incredible young men your best friends are, how they’ve made you a better man, a better son and the best kind of friend there is. But when he was alive, he had friendships just like yours, and he loved his friends like you love yours. And now, you’ve got his best friends, too.

I’m sorry Dad isn’t here to see this important moment. He would be as proud of you as I am. Even more. You are everything wonderful in a son that Dad and I talked about when you were a baby. You are everything good about the both of us, but with none of the bad. You were everything to Dad and you are everything to me. Quite simply, Benjamin, you are Everything. Happy Graduation.

Love, Mom


I gathered every single picture I could find of your dad and I together. This is a history of our life, and then your life with us. If you are ever out in that great big world you’re about to live in and you start to miss home, here is an easy place to come visit, especially when you need to be near your mom and dad. 
Always remember these things: Your parents loved each other very much, and when we were good we were better than everything in the whole world…and you came from that.
You were the best thing to ever happen to both of us. XO

About Dawn Quarles

Dawn Quarles is a high school political science and American history teacher who moonlights as a blogger and writer. She lives on Pensacola Beach, Florida.

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2 Responses to “To My Favorite Child, On Your Graduation Day”

  1. Alan Land says:

    Got something in my eye…

  2. Carrie Ricksecker says:


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