Life as I know it is coming to an end

Ellie McDowell

More stories from Ellie McDowell

It takes a village
April 19, 2023

Some of my hardest goodbyes

A month ago, things were so different. There weren’t approximately 1,000 miles between me and one of the people I consider to be one of my best friends. I saw Kyle every day. I wasn’t quite so worried about the fact that in nine months I will be 800 miles away.

Noah to the Marines.

Kyle stays here.

Me to Pennsylvania.

Alex and my family remain here.

Between all of those places is a whole lot of miles. The first 1,000 were achieved on January 8, when Noah left for boot camp. I’m starting to realize—as we near the end of senior year—that growing up means distance and change.

I have never done well with change, so when the first one happened on the last day of first semester, it hit me just how hard the rest of high school was going to be. The first big change was Noah and Kyle finishing high school. Both of them graduated early, Noah so he could go to the Marines and Kyle so he could work more. I knew it would be hard, but I didn’t realize that I would miss them quite this much.

I still see Kyle a lot, but not every day like I used to. Now, I walk into fifth hour, and no one steals my drink or my computer. It’s way too easy to focus on the book I’m supposed to be reading because there isn’t talking and laughing I would rather be participating in. I can actually see through my glasses.

In a few months, it’s over. I’m no longer a high schooler. I have had a countdown going on my phone for almost a month now, and I constantly remind my friends and family how long is left. They always get upset and ask me why I do this, and honestly, I don’t know.

Every time I look at the ever-diminishing number, I have to hold back tears. Tears for the couple of months I have left spending nearly every day inside the walls of FHC. Tears for the couple of months after that before I move into a college dorm hundreds of miles away. Tears for the idea that in under a year, everything will be a little farther away than it used to be.

Megan is no longer in the room above me on her computer. Instead, she’s doing sophomore year without me. She’s getting her driver’s license without me. She’s getting coffee with Hayden and Addie on hour-delay days instead of me. She’s not calling me to take out the dog because he wouldn’t make it long enough for me to come all the way home. She isn’t making Meijer runs with me or asking me to take her to a friend’s house. Because I’m too far away.

Goodbye means going away, and going away means forgetting, and forgetting means it’s over. Forgetting means life as I know it will never ever be the same.

Addie isn’t two floors up. She’s not texting me to ask if I’ll take her to Starbucks. She’s not getting Wendy’s with me just because we felt like it. I’m not trading rooms with her so she can have a sleepover in the basement. I’m not getting ready for a band concert with her. She’s doing freshman year without me. Because I’m too far away.

My mom isn’t bugging me about my homework. We’re not having arguments over stupid things. She’s not rushing me to get ready for school because I woke up five minutes before I was supposed to leave. She’s not driving my friends and me to football games. She’s not giving me hugs even when I act like I don’t want them. Because I’m too far away.

My dad isn’t waiting up for me every time I get home. He’s not nagging me about not spending enough time with him. He’s not teasing me for every little thing. He’s not saying “poor Ivy” every time I bring my cat upstairs. He’s not checking on me when I’m out too late to make sure I’m okay. He’s not poking me when I’m already annoyed. Because I’m too far away.

I’ll be all on my own in another state. Kyle won’t be waiting for me when I get to work. Alex won’t be standing there when I walk out of fifth hour. Noah won’t be calling me a loser for taking so long to get to lunch. Addie won’t wake me up from a nap by turning on the TV. Megan won’t get mad at me for leaving late for school.

Instead, I will be walking myself to class. I will walk into whatever job I manage to find in Pennsylvania all by myself. I’ll be praying that somehow, I pluck up the courage to make new friends by myself. I will be building a life by myself that will be brand new.

Brand new and hundreds of miles away from the life I know now. The life where I struggle to get my stories in on time. The life where my mom has to remind me to do my Membean. The life where I write essays for teachers I’ve known for years. That life is almost over.

The hardest part about senior year isn’t the classes. It’s not the planning for college. It’s not the graduation party organizations. The hardest part about senior year is the goodbyes. The hardest part is leaving. The hardest part is the idea that someday nothing will be the same.

When Noah left for the Marines I cried. I cried and cried and cried because this is the first goodbye of many. I hate goodbyes. Goodbye means going away, and going away means forgetting, and forgetting means it’s over. Forgetting means life as I know it will never ever be the same.

125 days left until my life is never the same.