CONCORD, NC (WBTV) - Email from Chris West's mom. We first met Chris three years ago; he would've graduated this past June.
The 17-year-old fought a long battle with Stage IV Hodgkin's Lymphoma. Chris was one of those kids who loved to help others. He collected used video games to distribute to others in the hospital, hosted a penny drive to reward kindness and when he couldn't go on Spring Break, instead of sulking he asked others to post vacation pictures on his Facebook so he could virtually "see" what they saw.
After sharing his big heart, Chris died in August 2015.
Mom Michelle was asked to attend Jay M. Robinson High School's graduation because, she said, the school said they wanted to recognize Chris and another student who had passed.
"I wasn't sure at first," Michelle said. "I thought it was going to be really, really difficult for us to attend."
The school asked for a photo and momentos to put on a chair. After all the graduating seniors were announced, Chris and the other student were acknowledged.
In a letter she wrote to her son and his spirit on his graduation day, Michelle said this of the ceremony:
"I wanted to show you that I learned to be brave," she wrote. "Today we sat in the auditorium with your former classmates as they got to graduate, receive their diplomas and start their next journey."
Later in the letter she wrote:
"It tugged on our hearts that we didn't get to see you walk across that stage, but I hope by sharing our graduation reality that families will realize what's important - don't take a single day for granted. Don't forget to make memories. And never forget to take pictures."
Thank you for sending, Michelle. Good lesson to be shared.