I’ve been sitting in the library staring at the screen for 25 minutes now, wondering what on earth I could possibly say that would make sense of the last few weeks and days.
In the final few weeks of the semester, it became abundantly clear I was swimming in waters that were about to become rough and treacherous.
The waves came rushing in before I was ready. Assignments came due and books on books on books needed to be read; tests were taken, boxes packed, goodbyes whispered, tears cried with emotions on high, and then, all at once, I was alone. And once I was alone, the waves settled and the water rippled gently around me. I finally had time to breathe.
The problem with all this time to breathe, though, is that I have all the time in the world for that—but the time that I really want, that I’m desperate to hold close, is the time just before the waves crashed around me once and for all.
At the end of my first year of college, I told my roommate that summer would be the “time when everything from the last 8 months finally sinks in.” Although we both walked away from that school year knowing we were different than when we walked in, I was certainly right that summer was the time we needed to process.
This ending feels much like the end of that year, except this one hurts a whole lot more. My beloved roommate graduated with her BSN last week. After three years together, we didn’t even have a chance to say goodbye because everything happened so fast. The good news, of course, is that it’s certainly not the end of our friendship—but regardless, a very real change took place on Saturday, and I haven’t even begun to grasp how to process it. We weren’t the kind of roommates who co-existed; no, we were the kind of roommates who lived together. And for the rest of my life, she’ll never be my roommate again. How the heck do you get over that loss?!
But Rachel leaving wasn’t the end of things. So many dear friends who have changed my life for the better also took that exhilarating walk across the commencement stage on Saturday. That evening, I went to dinner with a few of them and their families. We spent three hours at the restaurant, each of us avoiding the reality that, once we left, people were actually leaving. This was no goodbye for summer; this was a change in the makeup of our friendships. No longer will we be able to grab Taco Bell at midnight or run to Walmart for last-minute clothing needs. We won’t talk too loudly in the library, work late nights on the newspaper, or see each other on the way to class anymore. Even though these beautiful people are headed off to do amazing, world-changing things, it’s hard to watch them go. It’s hard to know that things are changing and that I’m still left here with work to do.
Saturday felt a lot like my own graduation ceremony. Even though I have one semester left in undergrad, I really identified with the class of people who were moving on from this place. In my last semester here, it’s going to take a lot of work not to check out mentally and emotionally. In some ways, I know that I already have. The next step beyond undergraduate work is so disturbingly clear and unclear all at once. I know that I am supposed to leave this place—not just AU, but Indiana, and who knows, maybe the US entirely—but I have no idea where. The good news is that, well, I don’t have to know…yet.
Here I am, rambling on about people leaving and me leaving, and I’ve yet to make my point. (Really, bless you for sticking with me today and every day.)
The truth of today is that I am mentally and emotionally numb. This will not last, of course. Soon I will begin to feel the simultaneous ache and excitement of change once more. I have a lot to process from this semester, especially the last four weeks. Life happens ridiculously fast, and man, that makes me angry. It also makes me a little sad. Time really does fly when you’re having fun. It also tends to drag when you’re processing all that fun.
I have grown as a person so much since I came to college, and I’m not yet finished with that. The people I have come to know and love have absolutely shattered any expectation I could have ever had for friendship; they have taught me how to love myself through my failures and imperfections, and they have shown me what it means to love others courageously through fear. Right now, as I struggle to understand the change that’s happening all around me, all I can do is keep walking one step at a time.
It takes time to process life, and it takes a lot of courage to keep living life fully in the process. Where there is uncertainty and fear, confusion and busyness, and a whole lot of heartache, I pray simply that I would trust the process, that I would trust myself to process, and that I would trust God not to leave me stranded in the process.
Processing is hard, and I can’t say I particularly enjoy it. Really, truly, in the end, all I can do is trust it.
P.S. – please enjoy the below photos of some people whom I love