And the class of 2011 graduates...

They have been here as long as I have been here, and so I do not know what to say.

I can't yet imagine it without them.

I've had friends in other classes who graduated, but the class graduating tomorrow morning -- the class one year ahead of mine -- is the class full of people who mentored me. The ones who were just out of the awkwardness of everything being new when I came in and everything was new for me. I was a mess of eager confidence energy and a lot more cluelessness than I realized, and they were gracious enough to not let onto it for the most part.

So tomorrow I am going back and I will watch them graduate. And I am proud of them, because I know the work they have put in. I've spent three years watching these people, and learning from them how to do things, and I am delighted to get to see the beginning of the next piece of their lives, this stepping over the threshold. But also sad.

I will miss them.

I will miss the laughter and the familiarity, the having someone older to run across the hall to when something goes wrong, when I am lonely or tired or confused and want an older sibling. I will miss students who can tell me about the classes that they took before me, and who can tell me the stories of what happened before I came, and who remember what things were like when I first came.

Oddly enough, I cried myself silly over it... not this year, but last year, and closer to the beginning than the end of the year. Even at the time, I felt that it was ridiculous, since I was less than halfway through my time with them.

I think something always hurts about leaving, always hurts about knowing that there will be a time of leaving.

And we all fumble for words, not wanting to say goodbye, not wanting to say have a nice life, not wanting to admit that we won't see each other at dinner that night, or even next fall, may not see each other again ever in this life. Knowing that even if we do, so many things that we cannot foresee will be different, and that holds its own kind of sorrow.

I do not know enough ways to say to them Thank you, you do not even know what you did for me, but you changed everything.

How do you say thank you for advice about professors and meal plans and routes to take and places to avoid and the politics of romance and homework assignments and...

for making me eat and sleep and relax, for making me focus and giving me ideas and checking on me when I was sick and talking when I asked for company and listening when I needed to talk...

for tears and hugs and hitting each other with swords and teaching rules and for all the time spent swapping stories...

for all the stupid things we've said and done...

for all the things taught and learned, for all the beauty offered with no expectation of anything in return...

for the nights spent awake talking, because days are busy with classes and other commitments, for teaching me that it is okay to ask when there is something that I need...

for giving me friends who were often more like siblings than friends...

for being the hands and feet of Christ and graciously pulling me into service, for being a mirror showing me where I needed to grow and telling me over and over that it is alright to be broken, that all things will be made right, that all shall be most well?

And so my tears are all mixed up with laughter. Because there is a document on my computer that is 44 pages long, and a lot of the quotes on it are a tiny piece of situations that never would have happened without this graduating class.

So here is random wisdom from the class of 2011.

"The more you try to cheat God's sovereignty, the worse it's going to get." ~in a game involving dice.

Sometimes you should tell people to think about what they just said.
Other times, you should tell them to just move on.

It's not "banging your head against the wall".
It's leaning against the wall. Rapidly. Headfirst.

Missing papers can only be in a finite number of places.
Unfortunately, you generally only have a finite amount of time to search them.
Guess which finitude is smaller.

"Drink some more caffeine and go to bed!"

Even if you can take files in almost any format, non-existent probably will not work.

"2010 is now history... that point in the space-time continuum is no longer accessible to most beings."

"Chocolate is ALWAYS a better idea!" [when it is good dark chocolate]

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