Saying Goodbye to My Graduating Family Member

Nicole Martin, Copy Editor

For 16 years and seven months, I have had the joy of knowing my cousin: my longest friend and the closest thing I have to a sister. After growing up surrounded by older brothers, she is the person I go to when I need someone to relate to on a familial level, express my thoughts and share laughter and golden memories with. 

Every birthday, every holiday, every Disney trip I took as a child was with her. My fondest memories include our birthday trips as children and budding teenagers going to Walt Disney World. I remember us planning out our entire trip – the outfits we would wear and the rides we would go on. I remember eating Dole Whip from the Polynesian Resort Hotel, watching the giraffes from our window at Animal Kingdom Lodge and the fireworks from our balcony at the Grand Floridian Hotel. 

I remember all of our sleepovers — taking Buzzfeed quizzes, playing pool games and watching “Once Upon a Time” until we fell asleep. I remember all the Noche Buenas we spent together at our Abo and Abuela’s house, and the joy we felt the night before Christmas Day, wondering what presents we would get, or playing in the backyard, waiting for the pork, rice and beans to be set on the family table where we would all count our blessings and celebrate the holidays together as one big family.

As we grew older, I became so excited to walk the halls of Miami Palmetto Senior High and see the familiar face of my favorite cousin. I remember the excitement I felt at the end of the year knowing that I would be part of something she loved so much — The Panther — and sharing in her joy of becoming Editor-In-Chief that year. Now, even though I no longer see my extended family as often as I would like, I feel blessed that I am able to see my cousin every other day and continue to keep in touch with her, especially in an environment that I hold so dearly to my heart. Even if my shyness and quiet nature sometimes kept me from interacting with my cousin and the people around me the majority of the time, I still cherished those moments because I knew that I would no longer be in this position in a couple of months.

Now, with only a few weeks of my sophomore year remaining, the knowledge that my cousin — my near-sister and childhood companion — is going to depart for university in a far-away state, creeps up on me. It leaves me with the realization that very soon, I have to say goodbye to my beloved cousin for a considerable amount of time. 

As much as I know how bright her future is, I cannot help but shake the feeling that this is the end of childhood and the prized memories I share with her. The possibility that this means no more Disney trips, sleepovers and playing games. While I was always aware that this was part of growing up, it stings nonetheless. And it never quite feels real until you come to that point. Even so, I could not be prouder of her.

To my senior cousin: I am so proud of you for coming this far. You have spoken of your dreams of going to your dream school for so long, and you actually achieved it, just like I knew you would. Whenever an opportunity came your way, you grabbed it and never let go. You have matured so much over the past few years, and, as your younger cousin, I have admired you as you developed into the person you are today. And who knows, maybe there will be more Disney trips and sleepovers when we are older; I guess we will just have to find out. So, as you graduate and step onto that stage to receive your diploma, just know that I am so, so proud to call you my cousin. 

I love you so much, and please remember to visit your favorite cousin sometime soon throughout your college years.