An Open Letter to the Class of 2020

By Pei Chao Zhuo

Dear Seniors,

This letter won’t and could never be enough to explain how much I love and miss you. This semester getting cut short didn’t just rob us of in-person classes, or activities on campus, or you of senior week and graduation; it also stole months of time I was going to spend with you. When your friends become seniors, you know that this last year is going to be unique — you’ll never experience life with them in the same way again. It’s something I hold onto throughout the year, and try to push away, so that I can be in the moment and laugh and love with you, right up until the painful goodbye. I thought I had a few more months to settle into that place of acceptance, to share my feelings and time with you and know that, when it did come time to say goodbye, we could hopefully feel almost at peace with it. Instead, I had to try to pack all of those feelings, experiences, and love into a matter of days, all while rushing around trying to pack up my room and figure out how I was going to get home. It’s not fair, and it wasn’t enough, and it was messy. It’s hard to know when the right time to cry is, or if there even is a right time. It physically hurt to leave you, knowing we’d never coexist in this space again. It’s impossible to put your love for someone into words when you’re overwhelmed by a sense of panic and loss.

I keep imagining what it’s going to be like to go sit at the table we would always sit at and know that you aren’t about to walk by and sit down with me. I keep imagining what it’ll be like to not be able to just run up three flights of stairs, or across the street, to your room to say hi or to check in on you. To pull an all-nighter together. To dance and laugh and go on spur of the moment adventures. It’s why it’s taken me so long to write this letter. I don’t even know where to begin to describe how much you mean to me and how much your presence is felt on this campus, and how empty it will feel without you.

I do have a couple of important things to say: the first of which, is thank you. Thank you for your guidance, for your patience, and for teaching me to be more confident in myself. Thank you for pushing me to always be on my toes, ready to defend my takes when chats turn into friendly debates. Thank you for clocking me on bad choices I’ve made, and thank you for making me laugh so hard I thought I was going to pee. Thank you for introducing me to new music and new people. Thanks for being vulnerable with me, and thank you for loving me. Thank you for convincing me not to take six classes this semester. (Can you imagine? Six classes? On Zoom?) I want you to know how much you are appreciated, as lacking as that word feels, and how much your life and happiness, and how much our friendship, all mean to me.

I keep trying to tell myself that this isn’t the end, because of course it isn’t. When people affect such change in you and your life, that doesn’t end just because of physical separation. If I can say anything positive about class getting moved to Zoom, it is that it has helped me to see (some of) you once a week for class, which makes the departure feel, in some ways, less abrupt. It’s helped me feel confident that we will find ways to stay close even when apart. You are a force, and have influenced this community in ways you can’t even imagine, from classes who’ve already graduated to first years who’ve really only had half a year at Harvard.

I’m so excited for you to blossom outside of the constraints of the Harvard bubble, once it’s safe for us to go about our lives again. I’m excited to see you grow and change and succeed, because of course you will. You inspire me. There’s no doubt in my mind that you can’t do what you set out to do, and I’m always going to be here to support you in whatever ways I can.

I miss you. I really, really, miss you. I’m sorry that we didn’t get more time together this semester. I can’t wait for the first time I see you again in person and get to hear your heartbeat thundering when I finally get to hug you.

I hold you close in my heart.

Love always,

Rocket, on behalf of the underclassmen

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