Dear Notre Dame,
Well, to say it’s been a good run perhaps might be an understatement. Through thick and through thin, your campus has time and time again proven to be a home for the masses under your glimmering, watchful eyes. Now, for how often you have graced us with your presence, we can’t help but reminisce on the imprints you’ve imparted on us this past year.
For the class of 2026, the past several months have been nothing short of a rollercoaster. From the atrocities of autumn in endless Google Doc revisions to the smiles of spring as “Welcome Home” buffered onto computer screens across the globe, it is nothing short of crazy to realize that which us older students know all too well: in four years, the lives of our incoming first years will be turned completely upside down. They might not know it yet, but they’re entering something bigger than they could ever imagine.
Our class of 2025 students have gotten a taste of the magic in the sound of her name, officially having their first year under their belts. At the start of winter break, most of our former first-years said they were excited to go home. Now, many of them are sad to leave it. The realization that home might, just might, be under the Dome is starting to set in. Lucky for them, they see three more years on the horizon; a span that certainly looks longer than it lives.
On the other hand, the sun sets even lower in the sky for your class of 2024, whose time together wanes even more quickly than the rest, seeing that many of its members will be experiencing you abroad this coming year. To them, “yesterday” felt like prom on zoom and late nights on library lawn. “Halfway there” has never felt so fearsome, as their remaining four semesters are bound to fly fast. Now, the next time they will all be together will be the same year they are scheduled to part.
That decisive date is the exact fate the class of 2023 now faces as they enter their last year under your open arms. The future seniors of our University are well aware of its impact on their lives; they’ve seen, experienced, and been a part of the change that propels their futures forward. With one year left, the veterans of the Fighting Irish want nothing more than to stop the clock at a time when its hands only seem to cycle faster and faster.
Yet, this task pales in comparison to that of your class of 2022, all of whom long to not only stop the clock, but turn back time. As their final days on campus come to a close, the hard truth begins to set in: you have taken them in only to send them out once again. Their time with you was a mere rental from God, a presence incomparable but a present impermanent. Yet, not a graduate forgets that fateful night watching “Welcome Home” flash across LED lights. Ironic, isn’t it, that the day we all spend four years working towards is also the day we never want to come.
With that said, we’ll save our graduates’ goodbyes for the tomorrow that will never do so. And as for the rest of us, we can only hope to realize that we’re in “the good old days” now before they become yesterdays. We’ll come home soon enough, Notre Dame, and we eagerly await to see your shining face when we do. So, until we meet again, may God hold you in the palm of His hand.