Kaitlyn had many achievements in her life that we were so proud of. It was not only her achievements that made her special, but also the very kind and wonderful person she was. She was beautiful inside and out. I’ve always bragged on Kaitlyn. I couldn’t help it, we were so proud and I always believed in telling your children that what they do is important, that we love and care for them greatly. Though Kaitlyn is gone now, I still continue to brag on her because she was incredible. Please continue to humor me in writing about many of her amazing accomplishments. She’s gone now as I said, but her memory will live on and no one that ever knew her will ever forget her. She was quiet, but she was loved by so many.
Kaitlyn was always so smart, so self-assured, driven and always achieved what she set out to do. This continued to show up until the last time I saw her a few days before she took her life. As I have always said, her taking her own life was the last thing in the world I ever expected of her and no one knew of her depression. Depression is never what I saw in this wonderful person that had a love for life greater than I’ve ever seen.
All I know is that as I’ve always said, Kaitlyn was not defined by what ultimately came to pass. She was defined by the remarkable person that she was. I will forever remember her as I saw her up until she died. Continuing to portray all the confidence and happiness in the world. This was really Kaitlyn.
I wanted to put in my blog her valedictorian speech. It was filled with all the promise of a bright future for herself and for those of her classmates. She was so hopeful, so self-assured, so set on being everything she was capable of being, and this was Kaitlyn always. She went on to go to undergrad at Campbell University and graduated suma cum laude in two and a half years with a bachelor’s degree in biology. Then she was accepted into Wake Forest School of Medicine and was just about to start her 3rd year. She excelled in med school too.
She took her own life 4-11-13, a few days after the last time I saw her and she seemed so happy. The depression she wrote about in her suicide note to us said that it had always been there, but she hid it from us to protect us from it. What a strong person to be able to keep that all inside and continue to be the remarkable person she was. My regret is that she did, in fact, keep it inside and told no one.
So here is her Valedictorian speech of which I am very proud. This was Kaitlyn.
“Ayn Rand once wrote, “Throughout the centuries there were men who took first steps down new roads, armed with nothing but their own vision.” I look out to you, my classmates and my friends, and my mind is filled with memories and laughter and happiness for the experiences we have shared. I remember the years we spent growing up and growing out into the world, and as my mind travels through time, I come to this very moment. Here we are, residing in our final day of our high school life, on the verge of the beginning of the rest of our lives, and I am struck by the gravity of this moment. This moment, right here and right now, is the most important moment of our lives thus far; not because we are graduating, but because we own the present. Our past has been carved of the hardest of stones and we cannot ever go back to carve again, but the present is as clear as a pool of water, and we are free to do whatever it is that we wish. We are not the same men and women we were yesterday; we are who we are right now.
There is a magic, a beauty to who we are. We are endless, full of possibility. Our lives are limited only by the limits we place on ourselves. We can truly achieve whatever we wish, if only we dare to wish and to pursue that wish. Do not ever believe it when someone tells you you cannot do something; it is a lie. If you have a vision, then you have the means of fulfilling it. We are not who others tell us we are; we cannot and should not be measured by other people’s standards. Each of us is his or her own person , an individual full of personal hopes and dreams and yearnings. The true measure of a man is by how well he follows the vision of his soul, by how true he is to the deepest longings of his heart. We must know ourselves. We must seek, and we must find. There is no trodden path for us to follow; we must make our own, we must be pioneers. Because all that is important is who we are, not who others think we should be.
Dare to dream. Dare to hope. Dare to believe what is true. Dare to live and to love and to be happy. Dare to see and to know and to understand. Dare to be who you are and know that that is the only person you should be. Do not be tied to the past, and do not be chained to a future you do not want. It is yours for the taking. Your life is your own; have the courage to live it.
And now the time is near. We are about to receive our diplomas and move into the next stage of our lives, whatever they may be. It is my sincerest hope that for every single one of us, whatever lies ahead will be full of growth and learning and the pursuit of our own happiness. It does not matter our circumstances; it only matters what we do with them. May you laugh and smile and weep and hope and dream and feel and see and know. May you be passionate as the thunderstorm, forgiving as the rain, beautiful as the morning glory, loving as the wind, and bright as the sun. May you live every day of your life.