Out of Reach But Not Out of Touch

Victoria Cubera

Choosing to go to college far away from home comes with a price. Not just the obvious tuition-sticker price, or money for books about Nietzsche that I will never read again. There is a distinctly human cost to matriculating at Colgate, when I live north of Atlanta. Returning to my hometown, for any reason, requires a little more effort than it takes for my friends from Jersey. And so, I am paying the cost of experience. There are many special occasions that I will miss, that I already have missed, because it is inconvenient to go home and still keep up with my school work and college life here. My younger sister’s Sweet Sixteen, first proms, weddings for family and friends that I simply could not break away for; looking at my record inspires more than a little guilt. And this week, I will add a funeral to the list.

How do you deal with death while trapped inside the Colgate Bubble? There is no one else on campus who knows the dear family friend whom I have lost. No one here in person to sit and swap stories about her with, to sit with and know they truly understand the woman I am mourning. There is such a question mark in my mind of how to properly grieve for her here. And I know I cannot be the first one to feel this way. It’s like there is a barrier between my routine and reality, and if I go about my usual business, it’s like she’s still there. She’s not part of my day-to-day life here, and so it looks easy to try to ignore the truth. To avoid the pain. But that would not be fair, neither to her memory nor my heart.

I will miss the wake and the funeral. I will not be there to say a last goodbye. I am left with my heartache and my memories and my guilt, guilt for not being closer. To offer her family my love, and my family my love, as we all try to accept life’s simple reality: we are mortal.

Being a college student at a good school, with big plans for graduate work and many post-‘Gate goals, that can be easy to forget.

Part of me recognizes that I am going to hurt for a long time, and that being home would be good for me. Again, I’m jealous of my New Jersey friends. I can’t go to my real home, but I have a home here. Her death is a reminder to cherish that, and to live my life and be real to the people around me.

The rest of me is glad I am here. Glad to have Colgate’s resources to cope with my pain, with counselors or in the Chapel. Glad to be surrounded by the natural beauty of this area, because it is a distinctive reminder of cycles of nature and life. Glad to know that I have good friends here who want to help, people who know what I am going through, even if they did not know her. Though some students may find the “Colgate Hello” lacking, we are not heartless or completely self-absorbed. Anyone at Relay for Life last fall can tell you that. Colgate students know how to reach out.

Healing takes time, I know. Though it breaks my heart to know I will have another luminary to light, another name to walk for at the next Relay for Life, I will not be walking alone. And for me, that is enough.