Isabelle Jung/Sun Graphics Editor

June 14, 2024

DO | Goodbye to My Small Handful

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The farewell gauntlet of graduation season has taught me that you can tell a lot about a relationship from how the goodbye feels. Some are messy and tearful, others are a friendly wave and some well wishes and others happen without either of you even realizing you won’t see each other again. 

Having made it through the last four years at an ever-changing pace, I can say that the life lessons were neat and the academic rigor certainly helped to pass the time, but it’s the relationships that will make my heart ache as I become further removed from my college life. My heart will ache with regret over wasted time, a fear of the unfamiliar world ahead, and with the bittersweet knowledge that life will never be quite like this again. The spontaneity, vulnerability and enthusiasm with which I cherished my college friends will give way to new but still unknown joys. 

One insight that my dad often shares with me is that whether you are happy is mostly dictated by a select few relationships in your life. We might be inclined to chase everything else that claims to make us happy, but it’s really just a small handful of people who sustain our happiness, no matter how much money, status or influence we have. One of the most difficult parts of college is that we have four years to find our small handful of people, only to be separated from them in the blink of an eye. 

The friends I’ll visit Paris with one day, the ones in my blue scrapbook, the ones I shared a lease with — these people, along with a few others, have made up the small handful that have nourished my happiness at Cornell. I haven’t taken very good advantage of most of the opportunities that Cornell provided me, but I was able to make just a few friendships that were strong enough to make me worry about what life will look like without them. I’ll get over leaving Ithaca and Cornell’s periodically beautiful campus, but it’ll take a little bit longer for me to be at peace with the fact that I’ll never be able to do life with my closest friends again in the same way I did during college. 

Now more than ever, I’m grateful that I have God’s faithfulness and steadfastness to lean on. My relationship with God has sustained me in a way that no one else in my life can. Just as my happiness at Cornell didn’t come from maximizing my career opportunities or outdoing my competition, I’ve learned that my life as a Christian is not about following rules for the sake of appeasing God, but rather learning a little bit more about who the person of God is every single day. The more I’ve learned about God, the more desire I’ve had to care for and love my friends, no matter how brief our time together may have been. 

While the goodbyes have been sad, I’ve found that I could never bring myself to cry at the right moments. During even the most dreaded farewells, I failed to muster up a single tear. In a somewhat twisted way, it brought me joy to see how much certain people would miss me. In the quieter moments, though — when I make banana cookies and have no one down the street to share them with, or when I hear a song that my friends were gracious enough to listen to me butcher — I’ll be saddened as I remember what made these years so special.

Noah Do is a graduating senior from the College of Arts & Sciences. He served as the Associate Editor on The Sun’s 141st Masthead. He can be reached at [email protected] This is the final installment of his column Noah’s Arc.