Gripping her proud dad’s hand firmly and her hard-earned testamur, university graduate Kassidy Fisher grinned for a photo in a borrowed cap and gown.
It wasn’t how she imagined her graduation photograph would look. But with her father gravely ill and official ceremonies postponed, Ms Fisher was just grateful for the moment.
Minutes before the photo was taken on May 8th, the 22-year-old signed the paperwork agreeing to put her father into palliative care.
He died two days later.
Taking her graduation photo should have been one of the proudest moments of Ms Fisher’s young life, but the memory will always be ‘bittersweet’.
Just minutes before this touching graduation photo was taken on May 8th, the 22-year-old signed the paperwork agreeing to put her dying father on palliative care. He’d live for just two more days
Ms Fisher’s father – her ‘confidant and idol’ – wouldn’t live to see her accept her certificate on stage at campus, which had been delayed due to Covid
She’d breezed through her marketing and public relations degree at the University of Technology Sydney and only one week earlier had secured full time work in her field.
But Ms Fisher was still weeks out from her official graduation ceremony. The cap and gown in the photo didn’t belong to her – instead, her boyfriend had borrowed them from the discard pile at a university where he works.
Ms Fisher’s father – her ‘confidant and idol’ – wouldn’t live to see her accept her certificate on stage at campus, which had been delayed due to Covid.
Rather than forego the long awaited graduation snap entirely, Ms Fisher and her boyfriend of eight years concocted a plan to ensure her dad didn’t miss out.
She dressed up in a blue mini dress and did her hair and make up for her Saturday morning visit to her dad’s hospital room, inviting her step siblings along while her boyfriend was tasked with bringing the graduation gear.
Mr Fisher’s condition had deteriorated and when she arrived at the hospital, she was required to sign paperwork instructing his medical team to put him on palliative care to make him more comfortable in his final days.
The morphine dosage that morning had made him drowsier than usual, but still he wanted nothing more than to hold Ms Fisher’s hand and celebrate her impromptu graduation ceremony.
Ms Fisher’s boyfriend, who works at a university, managed to secure some robes so she could have a makeshift graduation ceremony at her dad’s bedside
Ms Fisher has worked as a performing mermaid for the past three years and recently secured a fulltime PR job
Ms Fisher idolised her dad, who was her primary caregiver for much of her childhood. Pictured at a Beauty and The Beast themed birthday
‘It’s not the photo or moment I had imagined, but I’m forever grateful to have this memory now,’ she told Daily Mail Australia.
‘I’m glad I did it, even though it’s bittersweet.’
Two days after the photo was taken, Mr Fisher died.
He’d been battling late stage Crohns disease and Ulcerative Colitis for eight years prior to receiving a bowel and bone cancer diagnosis in June 2020.
Ms Fisher, who works part time as a performing mermaid, is grateful for the time she spent with him and credits her father for teaching her ‘how to be a good person’.
‘I wouldn’t be who I am without you… I’ll miss you every single day of my life,’ she said in a moving tribute to her dad after his death, explaining her dad often helped her with assignments and let her ‘whine about classes’ whenever she needed.
Mr Fisher was Kassidy’s primary carer over the years and shaped her into a ‘good person’. After he was diagnosed with cancer in June 2020, Kassidy often took him to his medical appointments and took care of him
Australia looked different when she returned home early from her university exchange in England. Lockdowns were in place and she could no longer work as a performer (pictured). All of her classes moved online and she never returned to campus
The final year of Ms Fisher’s degree was far from what she had expected.
She had only recently moved to England to complete a semester abroad on exchange with the University of Leeds when the Covid pandemic swept through and Prime Minister Scott Morrison called all Australians home.
When she returned, most of her work as a performing mermaid had been halted due to lockdowns and then her father’s cancer was discovered and his condition deteriorated.
Given classes had moved online and Ms Fisher’s work had dried up, she spent more time than ever taking her father to appointments and generally helping him as he got sicker.
After officially completing classes in November 2020, she set her sights on finding a job and was offered a role in public relations a week before his death.
‘He was so proud of me getting a new job and didn’t want me to worry about him… He told me to take it and told all of his friends about it [so] I just want to continue making him proud,’ Ms Fisher said.
She’s taken some time off to grieve and get her father’s affairs in order but expects to return to the role soon.
Mr Fisher had been battling late stage Crohns disease and Ulcerative Colitis for eight years prior to receiving a bowel and bone cancer diagnosis in June 2020
Ms Fisher was on university exchange in England at the beginning of 2020 but was forced home due to Covid
Ms Fisher’s boyfriend of eight years (pictured together) was able to borrow graduation robes from a discard pile at the university where he works