I am writing this because I’m sad.
Today is the pre-commencement exercises for this year’s MSU graduates and the CSSH and the ComStud Department’s tributes to them and their parents.
Because I have to get my x-rays in an Iligan City hospital, I planned to miss out the first two events and only attend the department tribute. I returned to the campus by 3:15, checked the students in-charge of the preparations and went to my dorm to change clothes. But then I decided to rest a bit, anyway the program will start at 4.
That bit of rest stretched to 5:30 and when I trudged my way to the venue, I saw my students who were on their way home. They asked me why I did not come?
I felt like crying. In fact, I am crying now. How could I miss this?
I’ve missed last year’s department tribute, too, but that’s because of a migraine. My batchmate Ate Djacyl who’s graduating that time wouldn’t attend without me. I also don’t remember attending the tribute 2 years ago.
What is wrong with me? Why am I missing important moments? Is it because I’m wired to avoid goodbyes?
I actually hate goodbyes. I don’t want to be seen crying (or to see people crying as well). I don’t want to be seen weak or needy or desperate. In fact, only a few people had seen me cry my heart out.
Months ago, I had told my students while they were all struggling with their undergrad theses that everything would be all right in the end. All those tears, sweat, money they spared just to graduate will be forgotten. All those things I’ve told them as their adviser– all encouraging, hurtful, angry words to push them— are just part of this process called graduating. The road to an end is always rocky, and that’s what makes the ending both sad and happy.
But I guess I only want the happy part. I don’t want to be seen weak because that’s what I really am. I don’t want to see people leave or be shocked that they’ve left. I don’t like to be left and I don’t like leaving.
After my own graduation years ago, one of my favorite professors told me:
“You may not understand this but it hurts to say goodbye to my students. I always have to burn the bridges I have built with them, to let go, so they may also build bridges on their own.”
How I understand now. Maybe, just maybe, I will learn to accept that goodbyes are also part of this painful process called life.