I am terrible at goodbyes. Like, awful. December was terrible as I said goodbye at Conn. I cried all the time. I cried so hard my last day at camp that I almost drove off the road. I would sit on the couch the week after Commencement, after all the stress from Give ‘n Go is done, and bawl with released tension and grief from my seniors being gone. Every time I see Kiaya, I start to tear up…and I have only had her for 5 months! And I work in a field where we have goodbyes built into the year.
Commencement season has always been bittersweet for me. I vacillate between joy that the stress of the school year is over, and the fact that I will need to say goodbye to students that I have grown close to over the year. Some of them I have only known for a year, others I have known since their first semester on campus.
I’m struggling right now with the fact that I am not in Connecticut. I felt like this my first year not going back to Dickinson’s graduation, but honestly, I didn’t know anyone graduating so it was only bittersweet because I was missing the traditions.
I was lucky enough to have Elizabeth read a letter out loud for me at the Student Leadership Banquet this year. It was the first step in saying goodbye to my students every year and I didn’t want them to think I had forgotten them.
I want to be at Conn’s graduation. I want to say goodbye to my seniors. My newsfeed is filled with pictures of my happy students under white tents, flowers in their hair, barefoot, dancing, squeezing groups together, brightly colored dresses, pants, shoes…all of the things that define senior week at Conn.
It is my own fault I am not there. I chose to take this job, I chose not to spend the money to fly back this Spring. So it is my own fault my heart is breaking.
I still have a commencement ceremony to go to here. Graduate students that I have forged bonds with over the past 5 months will be hooded on Saturday afternoon, and I am privileged enough to be a guest at their ceremony. They have taught me new ways to supervise and nothing beats the thrill of one of them happily telling us that they accepted their dream job.
But four years ago, I welcomed this class onto Conn’s campus. I helped them with their roommate conflicts. I interviewed them for the RA position. I interviewed them to work in the Women’s Center. I stood on stage and yelled vagina with them. I taught them about social media. They taught me even more! And I am struggling with not being a part of their last week. I won’t get to sit in the front row and take a picture as they walk across the green. Or seek them out after the picnic for a picture of us together. I won’t have my phone ring throughout the afternoon for goodbyes as I drive the truck around for Give ‘n Go.
Instead, I will stream commencement from my couch. I will cry as I watch Kolton give his speech. And as each one of them walks across the grass. And then probably after as well, as I think about them finding their families and friends to say goodbye.
While I am 676 miles away in physical form, my heart is in Connecticut this weekend.