The smiles, the hats and the excitement was all there. But the pomp and circumstance at Grand Canyon University's commencement was somewhat overshadowed by the loss of one of the graduates.
GCU student Karli Richardson was supposed to walk across the stage. Karli and her sister Kelsey died when a wrong-way driver hit them head-on on I-17 two weeks ago.
Donning the hat Karli decorated and the medal given to her by Kelsey's college, their mother Cathy Hocking instead accepted the diploma for Karli.
"Karli should be here without media," Hocking said. "Karli should be jumping up and down and walking across that stage."
Hocking said the pain of losing both of her children so suddenly and senselessly has been unbearable at times. But she isn't bitter.
"It would be somebody else who he hit and maybe they wouldn't know the Lord and wouldn't be in heaven today," she said.
She takes solace in knowing the two are together.
"One couldn't have lived because if one had lived and one had died, the one who lived could never have lived again," she said.
And though her daughters lived life like there was no tomorrow and taught her the acronym "YOLO," Hocking refuses to believe you only live once.
"Karli and Kelsey did not live once, they are living forever. They just beat their old mom to it," she said.
Hocking, and the girls' father Gary Hocking are calling on lawmakers to do something about the number of wrong-way drivers in the Valley.