MIDDLEBORO, Mass. (MyFoxBoston.com) -- High school graduation is a defining moment for a teenager. A testament to academic achievement displayed in the form of a diploma.
For Jessica Bolieiro, much like her fellow graduates at Middleboro High School, getting that piece of paper is the highlight of the day.
Or so she thought. Outside the gym after the ceremony her sister, Chelsea, surprised her. Chelsea had been serving overseas in the Navy and the two hadn't seen each other for a year and a half.
The two embraced for what seemed to be as long as the time they've spent apart. And appropriately so, as one of the goals of Chelsea's surprise was to try and fill some big shoes.
"I lost my husband two years ago today," Jessica's mom Melissa said on the day of her graduation.
That's when the girls' dad, Antonio, lost his battle with cancer and thus his chance to watch his middle daughter mark a milestone.
Jessica said it was hard to graduate on the anniversary of her dad's passing, but having her sister surprise her made it better. And, her sister said, there was no place she would've rather been.
"I wanted to be here more than anything. I know graduation's special but the anniversary's special. She shouldn't be without her dad or her sister on this day," Chelsea said.
Chelsea was granted special leave in order to attend the commencement. Her stay in Massachusetts is only about two weeks.
But for their mom, the special trip would have been worth it if only for the moment when she saw the two girls hug.
"She misses her so much they're so close, just the shock on her face means the world," Melissa said.