When it started, there were fifty. Some of us were cocky, others shy. Yet we were all here, all together, pioneering a world for others to follow. None of us cared about that yet, none of us even knew each other. We were all strangers, wandering and meeting. As the weeks passed, the rules grew stricter, the clay hardening around what form worked best. And so, with little tears and sparse goodbyes, the summer ended.
We had made friends, talked. Of the fifty, only twenty nine could make it or chose to come back. It was disheartening, and we had many first year-ers now, clouding up the once peaceful atmosphere. We continued to solidify our friendships, a few of us cracking through the shells of others. But with this year came chaos, as well. We were divided, crying and slashing at each other with frustration and pain. The work was hard, the reward was little. We were strung together by tight knit friendships, now. The clay had broken and was being wound tighter to contain the extras, and so it constricted those who once fit it, as well.
So few of us had come back. We’d sang our goodbyes, hearts hopeful and expectant. We were happy now, we were becoming a form of family. Then rules were broken, the first and second years were destroying it. They were destroying what we’d known, what we’d made. We were obedient, yet the rules constricted still further. We did not recognize ourselves in those first and second years, breaking the rules which hadn’t existed yet. Here we were, foolish, broken, happy. We were almost a family. But it didn't set in yet. Finally, the summer was drawing to a close. We graduated painfully, proudly. We hid our sadness for a while beneath a mask of pride, proud to have pioneered, proud to have been the first. Proud to be with each other. Graduation ended, and our masks shattered, each of us falling into sobs over each other. Tears stained our cheeks, and we made a promise to see each other again. Our voices shaky, we made plans to see each other again with a heart full of despair knowing we would likely never follow through.
Sometimes, you need to change perspective. Reflect, know and listen. You need to cry, you need to laugh. Almost all of us were numb from heartbreak. We were jolted to life when we got the call that there was a fourth year, and that we were invited. I have no doubt many of us cried tears of joy right then and there. Those tears of joy faded, as we arrived. We’d gone from 19 to 9, our numbers were a little less than halved. It hurt, but we were happy still. We were joyful. The rules were changed, again, and we were broken, again. But we began to heal, slowly. Most of us probably noticed around the second week. We were bonding again, healing, laughing. We were indulging in our passions, writing, math, designing, engineering, science. We were bright, and alive though we may not have acted so. We laughed, we horseplayed, we tussled and scuffled. We experienced death in our families, and an already full dam was flooded. It began to crack. A few grew apart for a day or two before we melded back, forgetting our sorrows. We were truly happy, focused on the moment and nothing more. We were asked about our futures. We were sure. We were asked about our past. We were sure. We were less proud to be pioneers now, and more so to be friends. Up until the day before graduation, we hadn’t known we were a family. We partied away our fears for a few hours before it was time to disperse with many hugs. A few of us avoided it, but were gradually brought in. Dams filled to bursting, dams cracking, and dams breaking. Slowly but surely, we all broke down, sobbing into each other’s arms. Seemingly impenetrable people were forced open, where they joined the goodbyes. We all looked out on people we thought we’d never known and began to recall memories of them. A smile and laugh there, a playful shove here. We all began to hug again, pitiful wails filling the room. All 90 of us, gathered together in sorrow. It was a happy sorrow. We made plans we meant to keep. I guess we’ll just have to see if we do. I, for one, will do all in my power to keep that promise.
It hurts, our hearts are broken, but we’d rather not soon forget this pain.
It would hurt so much more if we forgot it.
It would hurt so much.
It hurts to think about it.
Our goodbyes are said.
Our tears are shed.
The last day is nearing.
We’re going to graduate again, and say goodbye again.
It’s going to hurt again.
But we won’t ever let us remember just this sadness.
We will remember.