graduating students facing clocktower with blue skies

A Lament for the Month of May

Written by Aidan Cyrus

One cannot escape the inevitable: death, taxes, and senior graduation every May. For the seniors, graduation is the culmination of their hard work and diligent study—a celebration of the friendships they’ve made, the joy they’ve felt, and the memories they will keep forever. For the underclassmen, but particularly juniors like myself, graduation is a time of immense pride at seeing some of your best friends complete their goal of a college degree. It’s also a bittersweet moment, however, as you realize that the following year you will not be able to share memories, meals, and late nights spending time together. This cuts the deepest. I’m preparing myself for this coming May, when I will lose many great friends that have been my bandmates, soccer teammates, dance partners, road trippers, and truly, my closest friends.

At Hillsdale, the size of the school allows for inter-class friendships. Even the freshmen can get to know the seniors, which is an unusual blessing. But it also means that, for three years, you have to watch your friends leave. Besides acting as a small memento mori, in which we are reminded of the inevitability of our death—sorry for the morbid turn—it also reminds us to be grateful for the time, albeit short, that we spent with the graduating seniors. 

Graduation does not entail the loss of a friend altogether. Although it is a common cliché, friendships at Hillsdale can last a lifetime, as long as you intentionally practice friendship. Practice friendship by reaching out and staying in touch after graduation, or better yet, making sure to spend time with them when they return for Homecoming or Alumni Weekends. (Personally, I feel like a dog in a “Soldiers Returning Home Compilation” whenever I get to see an alum whom I love. I have to rein in my excitement.) Practice friendship by praying for your graduated friends, or taking care of their younger siblings who attend the college.  Absence makes the heart grow fonder, and time apart from your graduated friends can offer opportunities to renew the bonds of friendship. 

When you are away from good friends, memory acts as both the product of shared experience and the vehicle to reflect on said experience. How do you cherish memories, particularly of people you do not see anymore? To do so requires the disciplines of reflection and gratitude. And reflection and gratitude are a part of the making of the fully formed human, the end of a Hillsdale College education. The College teaches its students the intellectual virtues in the classroom, but outside of the classroom, we have the chance to grow in moral and practical virtues. Through friendships, we can practice the virtues of humility, goodwill, and generosity on a daily basis. 

So while it hurts to see your senior friends leave every May, it presents an opportunity for reflection. It should also renew your intention to make the most of the time you spend with your friends while they still roam our campus. If you are intentional in your relationships, graduation is another step in the timeline of your friendships, not the end. 

For Further Reading: 

What It Means to Be a Hillsdale Senior

Friendship Bookends

Aidan CyrusAidan Cyrus , ’22 studies philosophy and classical education. A citizen of Vienna, Virginia, he spends most of his time writing for The Collegian, kicking the ole soccer ball around, and lamenting the loss of McDonald’s all-day breakfast. His band, the Sad dads., is the second-best indie sadcore dad-rock band in Hillsdale County.

Published in April 2021