COLERAIN, Ohio — An Ohio mother had her last wish fulfilled when she was able to be present as her son graduated in a special ceremony in her hospital room the day before her death.
Jennifer Linnabary had been fighting a rare form of blood cancer since 2009, but it took a turn for the worse in mid-January. Linnabary was afraid of missing her son's high school graduation, so family and friends worked with Colerain High School officials to set up an early ceremony, which took place in Linnabary's hospital room at the University of Cincinnati Medical Center.
The ceremony, which was official and binding, according to school administrators, was attended by family, friends and a district superintendent. Ben Linnabary wore a cap and gown and marched to "Pomp and Circumstance."
The ceremony had been put together in about four hours, according to WKRC. Ben's mother had her eyes closed during the ceremony, but attendees said it didn't matter.
"It was very emotional. You could tell his mom knew it was happening .. you could feel it," said one attendee, according to WKRC.
Ben Linnabary said the ceremony meant "so much," as he looked at his mother: "I graduated, mom," he said. He told WLWT the entire event was "surreal."
"Just the fact that they could get all of these people together," he said. "And it was hard at the same time, being there with my mom and knowing these might be the last hours I would spend with her."
Jennifer Linnabary died less than 24 hours after the ceremony, but her daughter, Rebecca Asimus, told the station Linnabary had left behind a legacy that will not soon be forgotten.
"It's changed him, it's changed me. The amazing woman that she is and the legacy she left behind," she said.