My good friend Fred Shirley is in the process of finishing up his Master’s in physics right now. And he is experiencing really difficult emotions.

I mean, not only is he missing out on problems classes, having to teach himself advanced concepts of general relativity, which ain’t for the faint of heart, and not only will he be missing out on a graduation ceremony and all of that, but he’s missing his entire last term of University.

All of it!

He’s missing seeing the lecturers and advisors he’s come to know so well over the years. He’s missing seeing his fellow students.

He’s missing out on living in his shared house with his friends, for which the rent is already paid.

He’d been working himself up to leaving campus after this summer, but then suddenly he was gone not necessarily for longer than a few weeks, and learned that he wasn’t going back. Ever.

Talk about a difficult transition!

I wish there were more we could do to celebrate and encourage graduates at all levels.

Rites and rituals matter. Subverted expectations are tough to deal with.

Writer. Runner. Marine. Airman. Former LGBTQ and HIV activist. Former ActUpNY and Queer Nation. Polyglot. Middle-aged, uppity faggot.