This is not a public journal. There is no theme, agenda, or overall purpose. I need a reason to write and it needs to be well informed. I consider myself an expert in only one subject, my own thoughts. I am reflecting my experiences onto the internet because this seems to make them more beautiful to me, especially when they are idealized and inaccurate. This is not a mirror for me to see myself looking back, nor is it a mirror that reflects a detailed image of myself to others. This page is but a jumble of letters, words, and ideas that will be interpreted differently for each person, including myself. There are no mirrors because these thoughts are directionless, inaccurate, and fuzzy; a vague, splotchy reflection of McKinley.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

An Untimely Death

Today I got my diploma in the mail. It was accompanied with an automated email from BYU. An impersonal goodbye to the most social experience of my life. Four-ish years of meaningful experiences wrapped into a cardboard envelope that symbolically said "it's officially over."

I've heard of people sharing their regrets as they wait to die. I've heard of others that offer bits of advice to loved ones who gather around to hear them speak. Yet, most people have the misfortune of dying an untimely death. Not that death ever comes at a good time, but "untimely" is the type of death that nobody expects. One day a person is just gone. When that happens, the loved ones get to do the reflecting for them.

The day I died as a student I wasn't in the library surrounded by a table of friends I had made along the way. There wasn't a long line of people waiting to tell me they loved me and appreciated the time we had together. There wasn't anyone asking "what would you have done differently?" It was just me and my thoughts.

The day I died as a student was not untimely because it was unexpected. I knew it was coming.

I died an untimely death because I never got to look each person that made the experience what it was in the eyes and tell them I was grateful for them. It was untimely because I never got to sit with friends from freshman year and laugh about we had done together. I didn't get to spend one more day with each mission companion working our hardest. I didn't get to relive a day in the life of an RA, with a large group of freshman trying to make friends and figure themselves out. I didn't get to see friends from the different wards and thank my bishops. I didn't get to sit with my roommates late into the night talking about things I've since forgotten. I didn't get to thank girls I dated for their contribution to who I am.

It's because my time at BYU was so wonderful that it feels like an untimely death. There are no words that can express what I feel when I think about the different people I met. How I'd love to see you all again. But, then again, it wouldn't be the same. We would probably just talk about what we did then and what we're doing now. Nothing will ever be able to replace the moments that already passed. Nothing will ever be able to replace the simple memories that we share, even if we never see each other again. Know that you are important to me and always will be.

A favorite book of mine, Life of Pi has an insightful quote on the matter. As Pi watches the tiger Richard Parker walk away into the wilderness he expresses how hard this moment was for him.  It was the last time he saw Richard Parker, who he had learned to love deeply.

“What a terrible thing to botch a farewell. I am a person who believes in form, in the harmony of order. Where we can, we must give things a meaningful shape...It’s important in life to conclude things properly. Only then can you let go. Otherwise you are left with words you should have said but never did, and your heart is heavy with remorse.”

Tonight, I bid farewell to BYU. I gave my experience a meaningful shape by honoring each person and experience with a moment of reflective gratitude. I appreciated you with my memories tonight. I'm sorry, but it's the best I can do. I've decided that it's not about the way you say goodbye. It's not about the farewell. It's everything that builds up to a farewell that make it meaningful. I can let this untimely death go, as I await another.

Since I was recently on my death bed, reflecting on my college experience, wouldn't you like to know what I would have done differently? Then gather round and listen closely as I push the words out in short, struggled breaths.

I would have remembered that every day I wasn't just living new experiences, I was continually bidding farewell.