I expect that almost everybody has vivid memories of finishing their final exam and so counting as having officially left school. As I walked out from the exam room I was intercepted by the Head of the Sixth Form who took me to see the Head Teacher. They said all sorts of nice things about me and told me that I was going to be awarded the Overcoming Adversity prize at the Celebration of Achievement event held in September.
Before I left I made a final visit to the Sixth Form Block. None of my closer friends were around to chat to and I already had a curious feeling of detachment, even remoteness, from my school days. I had been focused on those pesky exams for as long as I could remember and I didn’t know what I was going do with all the free time. I left the school via Reception meaning to say goodbye to some of the people there who had helped me. But the long queue of people waiting to be processed meant I didn’t bother. I just gave the long-suffering staff a wave. It felt so strange walking out of the front door and towards the car park for the last time; especially as I could see that there were still lessons going on for most year groups.
I sat in the car for a couple of minutes just to postpone my final departure. I know that as I drove off I said something like, “Mum and Dad if you are looking down at me: Remember what Juba says in Gladiator "I will see you again... but not yet... Not yet!"
One of the hardest jobs I had to do in the time between school and university was sorting out all of Mum and Dad’s possessions. Going through their clothes wasn't nearly as bad I had thought it was going to be but I'm glad I had a former school friend with me to help. Some stuff I threw away but I took all the nicer items to a local charity shop. It did feel strange walking out of the shop leaving behind so much of what had made Mum and Dad look the way they did.
I also sorted through the books and magazines that they had collected over the years. I kept a few, including the ones they were in the middle of when they got killed, but most went to a different charity shop.
Finally all their more personal possessions were listed so the family could have anything that I didn’t want for myself. I kept Mum's engagement and wedding rings - perhaps for me to use myself when I get older. I also kept all the photos and a few recordings that had Mum and Dad's voices on.