KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Of all the gravestones at the cemetery, none look like Elizabeth’s.
More than a decade after she was killed, a Knoxville mother is finally accepting her daughter’s high school diploma. Friends and family celebrated Tuesday by decorating Elizabeth Angelicque Bush’s grave for graduation.
In a space usually reserved for somber reflection, today was a day of celebration.
"It is a special day. It’s a special occasion," said Contonia Wright, Elizabeth's mother. "It’s about as exciting as the day she was born."
Bush was killed in 2007 as she was getting ready to begin her senior year at Fulton High School. She was robbed of a lot that lay ahead of her in life, nothing more so than the high school diploma she yearned for so desperately.
12 years after her death, Elizabeth’s mother will accept the diploma on her behalf.
"She would love it because she finally gets to have something. She gets to be a part of what is going on right now," said Wright. "We are celebrating! We are celebrating her win. She gets that milestone. That one plaque that was missing from the wall with all her siblings is right in place."
Not even time is a match for Stacey and Elizabeth’s friendship. When Stacey graduated, she did so without her best friend. Now it’s time to pass on the cap and gown to the next person receiving their diploma.
"I did walk across the stage in the cap and gown so it’ll have that experience attached to it," said Stacey Collins, Elizabeth's friend. "I personally feel like I should donate my cap and gown to her because Elizabeth was and is my best friend."
It may not look like your typical graduation party, but in the most unlikely of places, a celebration no less.
"It means so much. It means a lot," said Wright. "For all the wrongs that have been dealt, there’s this major right that’s taking place right now. It’s for Elizabeth."
The family will have a larger graduation part next month where they say Knox County schools will present them with the diploma.