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Approaching the end: Apart but not alone

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A few days ago at 10 p.m., I sat on the phone with my partner, curled up in a blanket, petting my childhood cat and telling her about my plans for putting together the last Kaimin of the semester. We have this conversation every Sunday, usually in person, but this time it was different. This was the first time since COVID-19 canceled my daily routine, in-person classes, graduation and favorite parts of my life that it really hit me. 

The last time I screamed in my car in Lot A because I couldn’t find a parking spot was likely the last time I would come to campus. The last time I dragged my feet on my way to STAT 422, it was my last in-person class, ever. The last time I sat down with my staff and told them, “this may be the last time we’re all together,” it was true. 

These last times were bound to come. They were bound to come for all of us who thought they had time to say goodbye but didn’t. 

But for the first time since coronavirus changed my life as a student, it hit me that I will never have the experiences I’d been imagining since I started at UM on Aug. 29, 2016. 

There are hundreds of students at UM, like me, who will end their college careers without the ending we were promised. We don’t get to walk across a stage and receive our diplomas, something that carries even more weight for students with a not-so-typical journey like mine. We don’t get to share that moment of accomplishment with our families and friends, many of whom were ready to travel hundreds of miles to be with us. We don’t get to stand together, a UM family, who may not have all known one another, but somehow all made it to the same place. 

Every day I think about how much I wish I could eat one more UC Market bagel, or read a book on the Oval or pick up the last issue of the Kaimin. For all of the seniors who are approaching the end, it’s personal in its own way. The thing is, it’s hard to explain what it feels like to be ready for one chapter of your life to be over while feeling frustrated you can’t read the last few pages.

It isn’t anyone’s fault that this happened, and there’s nothing that can be done to fix it. UM’s administration will try to give us an almost-ceremony, but it won’t be the same. For those of you who are angry or frustrated or sad, you should be. We deserved better. 

In a way, this letter is my goodbye. This paper is the goodbye of the seniors on my staff who thought there would be more. It’s not what we hoped for, but it’s what we have left. As you try to find your own way to say goodbye, know that we’re here. We may be apart, but we’re not alone.