Let life teach you how to say goodbye and say it well.
It's springtime at Trinity Western. Islands of blankets crop up on the Douglas lawn, freshman boys rehearse their illustrious mating calls, and library honeys migrate outdoors in clusters where the BC sunshine graces their snow-white Alberta skin. At night, students flock to forest clearings for vibrant bonfires that commemorate the vernal newness of the season. Winsome blossoms appear everywhere overnight—like tiny white flags they mark our surrender to finals, and we know the end is near.
The beauty in those blossoms makes the parting bittersweet. Surely summer holds adventure for some but it inevitably means change. And so, we will part ways, leaf through our copy of the Pillar, take one last Instagram of the cherry trees, and hit the road.
The goodbyes get more painful each year. Like losing the best soldiers in battle—each year more of my closest Trinity friends have moved on, dropped like flies, evaporated into the “real world”.
April is this weird and wonderful month where time seems to stand still as we cram for finals, type take-homes like madmen, pack up our closets, and grasp each other in final goodbyes.
Time multiplies as our waking hours ebb into the evening and we give way to a blurred distinction of day vs. night. A bizarre late-night culture emerges on campus; it becomes all too normal to run into fellow nocturnal students at 5 am. There is urgency in the air, as thick as the fragrance of fresh-cut grass. The urgency of both academic and social finals; of exams and goodbyes.
This is also the season for bonfires. Though the hardy attend fires year round, when soggy palettes cause a long and cold pre-fire waiting period, the spring ushers in a new wave of fire-goers. When the sun dries the ground, bonfire-attendance is at a critical mass: these are the goodbye-fires of April.
I can remember last year's so vividly. We hiked down to our favorite spot, which remains a word-of-mouth secret, passed on by generations of past TWU students. As we made music, exchanged poetry, and watched the flames lick skyward into the air someone said, “I can taste the finality of everything in the smoke." We stared into that mesmerizing orb of heat, recalling everything and everyone that had mattered to us in our years at Trinity.
Goodbyes are freaking sad. And that's okay! We can mourn the passing of seasons in our lives. But it would be a mistake to try to hold onto something that is clearly ending. It’s true, you may never see some of these people again and that's okay. It doesn't make them any less special; it just means they were a friend for this season and not the next. College is a season, and seasons change. Trinity is by nature a temporary situation, and we must learn from the moving-on.
Though it would be a mistake not to let go, it would also be a mistake not to commemorate this time. Let life teach you how to say goodbye, and say it well. It's the month of carpe diem—except its carpe finis. Seize the end. Or perhaps Carpe University Experience. Go out with a bang, not a whimper.