Famous last words


At 4:30 p.m. on March 17, I was going about my usual business, which is not much during that time of day. My phone vibrated with the text message notifying me that classes went online for the remainder of the semester. I saw this decision coming, but my foresight did not make the reality hit home any less hard. 

Which of us seniors ever expected our final year at Franciscan to end abruptly without the chance to go to dances and parties, giving our fellow classmates one last goodbye?  No senior expected to have to say goodbye so suddenly. Sure, we might see each other at commencement, if that is not canceled. That risk lurks in the background and places us on edge.   

Freshmen, did you come to college thinking you would have to go home permanently three-quarters of the way through the academic year? No. None of you expected this magical year of adventure and self-discovery to be cut short. 

This column was hard to write. Where should I leave you guys off? Although I rarely use popular culture to cope, I must admit that songs by Billy Joel give me the right words. 

Joel captured an expression for my mood so well during my writing. His song, “Famous Last Words,” from which this article gets its title, was the most potent. As I sat in my bedroom, watching the rain pour and playing that and few other of his songs, I looked back somewhat nostalgically on the last four years. They have come and gone so fast, and we closed down for the season far too soon. Yet, many memories are still sweet (and many I gladly suppress). There will be more memories some other day.   

Spring is coming. When winter finally departs, trees will bud and flowers will begin to grow and blossom. This virus will soon fade into the history books and we can go out again.   

Consider these my own famous last words, as they were very hard to write. Being a student at Franciscan was like holding a beautiful rose and admiring its goodness. Many times, more often than you can imagine, the thorns cut into me and made me bleed, sometimes just a drop or three, other times in a profuse flow. Right now, they pierce the surface, but I am not bleedingI have accepted this as part of God’s plan for my life. The rose was still lovely in spite of the painful moments. 

Seniors: All of us shared laughs late at night in our household common rooms or at campus events. We confided hardships between each other. Friendships were made and broken. Many fights took place and many tears were shedMaking this journey with you all, specifically, was an honor. I would not have done it with any other group of college seniors. 

Freshmen: I imagine it feels bad that you had to go home so soon. Do not be upset. You have many more memories to make and friendships to forge. The next three years will (I pray) be normal for you. You can still join a household, go to Austria, date, join a club or do whatever you want to do. 

Why did God permit this to occur? For what higher purpose is this happening? Was this, possibly, allowed as a punishment for some kind of evil ravaging our world?   

How will I finish my thesis? Will this project be completed as normal, or will I scrap it? Can I coordinate a FaceTime study session with my study buddies in different time zones? 

There are many questions hanging over our heads right now.  

It is time to save questions for another day and close our eyes on this academic year. No matter where we go or where you are at right now or later, we will never feel like we had the right last words to cap off this year. Dream of how wonderful life will continue to be once this situation is over. You readers and this university will always be a part of me. Take care.