It was six months away. Then two weeks away. And now, just days away. Each passing moment brings us closer to the day that perhaps all Notre Dame seniors simultaneously yearn for and dread: graduation day.
For me, as I’m sure it was for the many other born-and-bred Domers who will be graduating with me on the 19th, coming to Notre Dame was a lifelong dream. I was the girl who dressed as an Irish cheerleader for Halloween in kindergarten and the one who knew the names and numbers of all the starters of the football team. I couldn’t wait to be a part of it all.
And then one day, I was. It was mid-December 2008 and I was just getting home from school. As I pulled into the garage, my mom and little brother came running out of the house, my brother wielding a tellingly large white envelope.
My mom looked at me with tears in her eyes. “We’re thirty minutes late to soccer practice. We just had to be here when you opened it.”
Soon I had tears blurring my vision too, and my mom and I hugged while my brother looked on in confusion. It was a summer of waiting for housing assignments, pondering my choices for my first college classes and making countless trips to Bed Bath & Beyond. I couldn’t wait to join the family I had heard so much about.
Still, when it came time for move-in, I was terrified. I’ve always been shy, so without any other ideas I essentially bribed people to be my friend as I walked door to door to offer my new section-mates the chocolate chip cookies my grandpa had made for me. I guess it worked, since I’m still friends with the same group of girls four years later—though I still have to bribe them with grandpa’s cookies from time to time.
Now here I am, enjoying senior week activities and trying to get through the pain of changing my email from an @nd.edu to an @alumni.nd.edu account.
“Welcome home,” that acceptance letter said. And that, right there, sums up what I’m going to miss so much about this place.
I came to Notre Dame with sky-high hopes, yet my experience here has somehow exceeded them all. It truly has become a home. The actual beauty of this place is something that people always talk about, but it really is something magical. Just like every other senior, my phone is full of campus photos that I felt self-conscious taking, but I’m sure I’ll cherish them a few months from now.
The people I’ve met here, though, are what have given meaning to this place. My fellow classmates have inspired me, held me up when I needed it and made me a stronger person than I could’ve ever hoped to be. We stuck together through sunny days and snow storms, fun weekends and finals weeks, bad football seasons and even a trip to the national championship game. It was fate that united us and brought us all to Notre Dame at the same time. Now I picture us dispersing across the country like a broken sack of marbles. And that’s sad.
I know that when the time comes to drive away, it’ll be tough. Yet I couldn’t have asked to have a better sight than the golden dome in my rear-view window.
Madeline Stone was this magazine’s spring intern.