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Monday, May 14, 2007

Graduation Weekend

This was a bittersweet weekend, as graduation always is. I made plans to get down there early on Friday, circa 1:00 PM, but it didn't work out that way. I didn't manage to leave the office until 3:00 PM. Fortunately, it actually did work out, because Sylvia called me to ask for directions, and since I was still in the office at the time she called, I was able to pull up Google Maps and give her directions.

Anyway, so yeah, traffic was fun. I got to sit in "rush" hour traffic for about two hours. I made it to Christendom with only a few minutes to spare. The Mass was very nicely done, with several priests concelebrating. It was kind of odd seeing Emma, Lizzie, Laurel, Angela, Katherine, Emily, and Michael (I'm missing someone, aren't I?) all in graduation gowns. The reality of the situation came to smack me in the head. Soon, I would not see half of these people for a very long time, if not ever again...

That evening, I went to Sarah's apartment at Guardian Angel with Eric P., Draper, John E., Breanna, Chrissie, JD, Sarah (obviously), Freddo, Kyle, AJ (and I know I'm missing people in this list), and we all had dinner (thank you, Sarah!) and a general good time.

The next day, I saw many people (among whom I would classify several as my best friends) walk across the stage, receive their diplomas, and essentially cross over into a new life. They were no longer students. There was no more fun times to be had after Sunday brunch, singing, or beating out strange rhythms on tables (much to the chagrin of those surrounding us), or anything with these people. Some would indeed be around during the summer, but seeing them again as alumni is entirely different then seeing them as fellow students, even though we were only students together for two years.

After the graduation ceremony on Saturday, Emma F. and Claire O. held a music recital for their families. They both sang a few pieces that meant a lot to them and their families. It was a very nice thought -- very moving.

The next day, after Mass, there was a tearful goodbye with Lizzie, and then she was gone shortly after that. I went to brunch with Emma, her family, John E., and Breanna. That was a very interesting time. It was fun, but I had never met a few of the people present, so I was quiet -- well, quiet in comparison to how I usually am.

After this, I helped Emma pack up her stuff and load up her family's suburban. i was reluctant to let her go also the same day as my other close friends, so since we were both going to Ken's house for a bonfire, we rode together. After leaving Ken's place, I said goodbye and dropped her off at Blessed Margaret's. I then went to St. Theresa's and hung out at their bonfire for about fifteen minutes, chatted lightly, sang a couple songs, and then drove back to the apartment.

There is something to be said about juniors and freshmen. When I was a junior and I saw this class come in, I wanted to be there for them since they were the newest underdogs, and I wasn't worried about establishing myself in the heirarchy. I got to know this class very well, and I will miss them.

One of my thoughts on graduation is something that Deacon David B. (shares the same last name as my good friend Lizzie) from Holy Transfiguration recently told me. He actually told me this in the context of Pascha, and how good things must end. Many years ago, he and his family were visiting a friend's house, as friends are often found doing. When it was time to leave, his wife told his children to get ready to go. His children asked, "Why do we have to go? Can't we stay here forever?" Mrs. B. replied, "But if we don't leave, we can never come back." The children responded well to this, and prepared to leave.

My thought on the matter is that graduation is a very joyful time, and yet a very hard time for everyone. It involves parting ways with your best friends -- in some cases, forever. But, Deacon David's story plays its part now: "If we don't leave, we can never come back." In the original context, he meant that unless you stop celebrating, you can never again celebrate. Unless there is a parting of ways between friends, there can never be the joy of reunion. With that in mind, I will definitely be offering up my prayers for the class of 2007, that they may quickly find comfort in their graduation and new lives, and that both the good and the bad times that they had together in Christendom will prepare them for an incredible joy upon their eventual reunion. May God bless each and every one of them, and may Our Lady hold them each individually as her favorite son or daughter.