"Saying Goodbye to My Senior Year" by Emma Landry
I’ve imagined myself walking across a stage with my peers, shaking the dean’s hand, and looking at my family out in the audience. I’ve imagined the whole weekend. My family would come and we’d spend the weekend celebrating my achievement together. We’d go to Napa and go wine tasting. My mom and sister would help me get ready the morning of graduation. And at the end of it all, I’d throw my cap in the air as a final bittersweet goodbye to my college years that have treated me so well. In those moments, with my cap suspended in time, I’d think about how much I’ve grown. How much I’ve learned. How lucky I am that I had a family to support me through this. Everything I’ve gained from years of hard work. But I won’t.
I won’t be doing the Napa Wine Train with my friends this spring. I won’t be living in my college apartment for the last night, because I never knew my last night was my last. I won’t be sitting down with my advisor and making sure I’ve completed all of my coursework, not in person, anyway. I won’t be having one last college Halloween. I won’t be decorating my place for Christmas. I won’t have my senior capstone class. I won’t go to Big Nite one last time, even though I never wanted to go the first three times. I won’t go to Shari’s at 3 am again. I won’t get drunk in my room with my best friend on a Thursday while watching The Office for the last time. I won’t get to show my boyfriend the town, and the school, and the people that helped me grow from the person I was in high school to the person he fell in love with. I’ve lost all my lasts. I already had them, I just didn’t know it.
People have lost far more from COVID than I have. Nobody I love has been greatly affected, everyone has stayed healthy, and nobody’s lives have changed dramatically. Of course, people have lost more. My senior year of college is just the thing I’ve had to say goodbye to. At first, I didn’t think I cared all that much. I had made the decision to take some summer classes and graduate early, so I won’t be having a spring semester this school year either way. I thought I was ready to be done with school and move on-- and I am, but I would’ve liked a better goodbye than the one I got. I didn’t realize that having all of those lasts meant such a great deal to me. But as time went on, I realized that I was mourning this loss more than I had realized.
We’re all making sacrifices right now, and I’m learning to make peace with mine. To everyone missing out on their senior year, you’re not alone. A lot of us are hurting because of this. But I’m trying to see the bright side. I went to college to have a better future. At the end of the day, college is about the future, and maybe my college experience was less than ideal, but I’ve gotten everything out of it that I needed to and I’m more than capable of going out and tackling the real world; and I get to do it with a degree.