I’m not sure when it will hit.
It could come when we say goodbye to those we might never see again.
Or it could come when we’re saying goodbye to those we can’t imagine living our lives without.
It could come when everyone is gone, and we are left with an empty campus and an empty room.
Either way, it’s inevitable and won’t be easier at any particular moment.
It’s been building for a while now. Maybe you felt it when stepped on campus for your final year. Or when you drove back from spring break, noting that this was your last time driving to school as an undergraduate. The first time I felt it was a warm night in early April. I said goodnight to my best friend, and began walking to my car. And this familiar, yet completely new feeling came over me.
A pull in my gut, and a simultaneous weight on my chest.
You may have felt it before. I had, but never to that extent.
In that moment, I wasn’t ready to let take over me. I took a deep breath, and pushed it to the back of my mind. There was still a month to enjoy every second I had left in the life I had known for the past four years.
Whatever is coming, and whatever has been building, is not nostalgia. No, I will not miss the mortifying moments of freshman year. Nor will I miss the less than confident self I’ve grown out of. And I certainly will not miss being under-21 in a college town. So, no, what is coming will not be nostalgia.
The only way I can label the entirety of this force is as a wave of emotion, and an ending.
The weight on my chest, on your chest, is the push.
It’s what pushes us on to something new, and on to something better. It’s crucial that we feel this way; it means that a certain chapter has taught us something about the world, and about endings. It’s a way to test relationships, and a way to make room for new ones. It’s what releases the big cry or the force behind a life-changing decision. At points, the weight makes it hard to breathe. But it isn’t in our nature to suffocate.
Whatever is coming will allow us to take full, deep breaths once more.
The pull in my gut, in your gut, is what makes having and losing something special so uniquely human. We can sense what we’re about to lose and it’s scary. It reminds us that nothing is permanent, and no good thing should ever be taken for granted.
Whatever is coming will release the strain of the pull.
Whatever is coming won’t be over in one moment. I’m sure there will be moments later on, hopefully of smaller proportion, where we will feel the familiar weight, and it’ll hit us all over again.
But for now, all we can do is wait it out. Whenever it comes, we won’t be ready. But we’ll handle it. Whether we cry uncontrollably for an hour, completely throw ourselves into the next chapter of our lives, or we hug our best friends and plan a reunion, the weight on our chest will eventually lighten, and the pull in our guts will fade away.