Rocky the Raccoon’s Send Off

The last several days there has been construction around the Greek amphitheater on our campus. The seats and steps now stretch higher into the sky than they did before. There are also so many more people on campus today than there usually are. The ground above my home vibrates as cars drive by, circling the campus, hunting for parking. What silly humans, don’t they know it is easier to park off campus? 

I peek my head out of the gutter and see students rush by excitedly, wearing big black robes with funny looking hats. Of course, I know that this can only mean one thing, because it happens every single semester. 

Today is graduation day, which is a very big deal for humans. I’m not entirely sure what this day means to them, but I know that for me, it means I am saying goodbye to many of the humans who live near me. I watch them leave every semester, and I can’t let this one be any different.

I rush to wake up Ronnie, push his fluffy shoulder with my little paws. “Ronnie! Wake up!”

Ronnie groans in annoyance. “Why are you waking me up? It’s the middle of the day!”

“Because it’s graduation day!” I yell in Ronnie’s ear. I wait for the grogginess to disappear from Ronnie’s face as he realizes how significant today is. “We need to hurry to the Greek or we might miss it!”

Ronnie and I quickly scurry up out of the gutter and down the path to the Greek. We try to stay hidden in the bushes as much as possible to avoid getting in the way of everyone hurrying to find their seats in the amphitheater. 

“Should we watch from the trash cans again?” Ronnie asks. 

“No way!” I say. “Have you seen the new ones that have been popping up lately? The openings are so tiny, if we go inside we won’t be able to get back out. We will have to watch from the bushes.”

Ronnie and I scurry to the bushes that are closest to the amphitheater and pear through the leaves. Music begins playing and echoes through the campus as everyone smiles and laughs with one another. 

The students in their blacks robes and funny hats begin walking to their own seats, and once they are all seated a man on the stage of the amphitheater begins speaking. He then reads off the student names, and they each walk up and accept a little square gift from the man. 

I do not fully understand this human ritual, but I know it brings them joy because they are all smiling the whole time every semester. Even at the very end when they are all hugging with tears in their eyes, they are still smiling. 

I watch as each student walks across the stage. These are the students that have kept me and my family fed even though there are rules against feeding us. These students are the only people to get excited when they see us, taking our picture and making sure we make it across the busy campus roads safely. 

I know that there are humans that do not like us. They think we are dirty and look like thieves, but the students here care about us and protect us. And even though I do not know where they go when they leave this campus, I am happy for them because they are happy. And I hope they all stay happy in everything they do from now on. 

The last student accepts his little square gift, and then the man on stage speaks again. All of the students take off their hats and throw them in the air, and everyone in the crowd cheers.

I hope they will never forget me, because I will never forget them.