Moments missed and memories mourned: The senior send-off we never got


From left: Content Editor Katie Valley, Editor-in-Chief Trevor Tyle and Managing Editor Katie LaDuke

I guess it’s true what they say — time really does fly when you’re having fun.

Unfortunately, the past four years have flown a little faster than anyone ever could’ve anticipated, thanks to the COVID-19 outbreak. It would be wrong to ignore the devastation this pandemic has caused on a medical or economic level. But I also think it’s important to acknowledge what it’s done on an academic and social level.

It’s not that I thought the best days of my life would last forever, or that they should. But I had all of that taken away from me without notice, and I don’t even have anyone to blame for it. It just … happened.

I keep being reminded that “I could have it worse,” and I’m not saying my situation compares to someone who is in a hospital dying at the hands of COVID-19 without anyone by their side, or someone who’s losing their loved ones to this unprecedented plague. 

But all of the seniors expecting to graduate at the end of the semester have earned the right to feel cheated, dejected and, quite frankly, pissed off. Call it a sense of entitlement, but to a 22-year-old who’s devoted his entire life to education and was preparing to walk across the stage as the first person in his family to earn a bachelor’s degree, losing out on the last bit of my college experience was heartbreaking.

At the end of the day, I’m grateful that, unlike some of my peers, I still get a commencement. I’m grateful that I have the resources to finish my education, even if it is digitally. I’m grateful that I have four years’ worth of incredible memories that I will cherish for the rest of my life.

But I had months of memories yet to be made that were cut short. I thought I’d get one last chance to have lunch with my best friend in the Oakland Center or one last day in my offices at The Oakland Post and Pawley Hall. Instead, I’m left here without any closure or feeling of a proper send-off, and I have nothing but the disappointment the world is trying to tell me I’m not even entitled to.

College came and went, and now I have to grow up a little faster than I was supposed to. I’m expected to just move on, go out into the real world and find a job. I realize life is full of disappointments, but this is one I just wasn’t prepared to face. It’s a harsh welcome to adulthood, and one that none of us asked for or deserve. 

— Trevor Tyle, Editor-in-Chief

We’re sad. We’re hurt. We’re angry. Yet, we feel guilty. 

Over the last few weeks, I have cycled through every single emotion possible daily, taking out my frustrations on the people around me (sorry, Mom and Dad). I wasn’t prepared to mourn my last semester of college, and my brain can’t comprehend how to mentally deal with all the changes during a time that is already filled to the brim with transitions. 

I knew the day would come where I would attend my last class of undergrad, sit at the desk I’ve worked at since freshman year for the last time, and officially move off the campus I called home for four years. All of those days came, and I didn’t even know they were my lasts. 

We have been robbed of our last “lasts.” Those “lasts” we started fantasizing of the day we began our college career. We were supposed to cherish and take in every second of those “lasts,” not rush through them.

Since the day classes moved online, I have constantly been in a state of anxiety about what will close today or what will be canceled with this email. I don’t get that closure graduates before me have had, and it sucks. 

To those that say this will make a great story to tell to the grandkids, it won’t. I’m absolutely heartbroken and will look back on this semester as one of the darkest times I have gone through, not only with my own well-being and emotional state, but also with what those around me have had to endure. I can honestly say I feel numb.

I know times have been hard for everyone, and sacrifices need to be made, but I have worked my ass off for the last four years to be where I am today. No one else put in the work, the tears, the late nights. I deserve my Toast to the Tassel. I deserve my sorority senior send off. I deserve a proper graduation. Those would make better stories to tell.

You can call me selfish and bitter and dramatic, but I have the right to be. This was supposed to be my time. 

— Katie LaDuke, Managing Editor

Freshman year, I walked through the doors of the Human Health Building for my very first college class: modern literature. I thought to myself, “I need to remember this moment so I can compare it to the moment senior year when I leave my very last class.”

I didn’t get a last college class.

My very last class would have been Tuesday, March 10, but I skipped it. I wouldn’t have even known it was the last time I would sit at one of the three lefty desks I got to myself in my third-floor South Foundation Shakespeare class.

So much of college seniors’ lives have been uprooted by this virus. Others may say we’re selfish for thinking it, but why did this have to happen? There were no proper goodbyes, no end-of-the-year parties at on-campus jobs, no scootering into the sunset with your best friends. Nothing.

Life threw itself at us too early. We knew we would have to prepare for it eventually, but what now? A “real job” outside of OU? Many of us are more worried about our at-risk family members and friends being seriously affected by this virus.

At the end of this semester, I’ll be the first one in my immediate family to get a bachelor’s degree, and I was planning to walk the stage, yearning to do what I love. I dreamed of commencement, where my family could see my progress pay off, and my younger sibling, who’s going to be a freshman at OU this fall, could get a taste of what it’s like to make it. I realize we get the opportunity to have a ceremony in August, but it won’t be the same, as we’ll already have progressed to the next step of our lives before officially ending this one.

Now, everything feels so empty that I often wish I wasn’t graduating. If we could only have one more day — one more first day of classes, one more late night study session in the library, hell, even one more all-nighter finishing a paper you know you’ll do OK on.

As we sit at home in front of our laptops completing online coursework, continuing our now off-campus jobs or watching more Netflix than usual because we’re laid off work until who knows when, we can’t help but feel devastated. We made it, but who cares if we can’t truly get closure?

Stephen Chbosky, in one of my all-time favorite books “The Perks of Being A Wallflower,” writes: “Maybe it’s sad that these are now memories. And maybe it’s not sad.”

Maybe we’ll look back one day and remember how difficult everything became and realize that we are so strong for going through all of this.

Seniors, we are with you. You’re doing so well. You made it, and you should absolutely be proud of yourself.

— Katie Valley, Content Editor