Senior Sendoff: An Irish Goodbye

Photo courtesy of Bridget Early.

BRIDGET EARLY | MANAGING EDITOR | bfearly@butler.edu

Anyone who knows me knows I’m absolutely terrible at saying goodbye. Making a quiet exit — aptly called an Irish Goodbye — has always been the most appealing means of taking my leave. In truth, leaving the places and people I love has always been intolerably hard for me, and departing quietly spares everyone the sadness of a drawn-out farewell. 

But at long last, we’ve reached the beginning of a series of unavoidable goodbyes. So I’ve decided I’ll do what the Irish do best: delay this emotional exodus with a story or two.

If you’ll take a moment to prepare yourself, I’m going to beat a metaphor into the ground, because it’s the only way I’m going to finish this, my fifth attempt at writing a senior sendoff. I’m bad at goodbyes, remember? Now, without further ado:

I had a teacher in high school who always used to tell us that life was like a tapestry. The weft threads of people and places are what lace our lives together, adding color and texture to what would otherwise be a loom stretched monochromatic and barren. 

Since then, I’ve returned time and time again to the idea of a tapestry, of my tapestry. 

In truth, the cloth of my life was a gauze-like jumble of threads knotted roughly together when I first arrived on this campus. Upon settling into an unknown Midwestern city, I realized I knew nothing about who I was and who I wanted to be. Loose ends abounded, as did raw, unhemmed edges, and one minor snag would have sent the entire mess into irreparable disarray. 

My tapestry is probably unrecognizable for observers gazing at it now, four years later. It is comforting, a blanket for cold Indiana winters and for days where indigo satin sadness lurks beneath the latticework. It is durable, withstanding the wear of long trips and longer study sessions. It is a vibrant cape in moments where courage is required. There are plenty of those.

Such marked changes are permanent proof of the people I’ve been surrounded with, and how much they have changed my life for the better. I’ve spent four years relearning how to weave — a process that no one ever really masters, to be fair — and I’ve ended up with a patchwork the likes of which makes Joseph’s Technicolor Dreamcoat seem washed out. 

Four years after attending my first Collegian meeting, it’s finally time to put a knot in this part of my life, to tuck the pieces beneath the warp strings and move on with something else. It’s certainly easier said than done, trying to extricate myself from this glorious tangle of newspaper twine and Slack threads. I’m not sure how, if we’re being honest, because they’re stitched into every part of my life at Butler.

It’s going to be challenging to say farewell to longtime companions like our Editor-in-Chief, who’s been with me since our first staff meetings. It’ll certainly be difficult to say a final Tuesday-night goodbye to my long-lost twin of a Managing Editor, who is both a powerhouse and an incredible friend with whom I wish I had spent more time. Hardest of all will be leaving the wealth of talented and hardworking new friends who comprise each annual editorial board — though to be clear, we’re leaving things in the best possible hands.

The people on this paper are multicolored, multi-textured, full of ideas about pattern and direction and trying something new. They are creative and inventive and dependable at the best of times — and especially during times of uncertainty.

In moments when the administration’s coarse ropes of elitist hypocrisy dragged at us like the strings on a marionette, the members of our editorial board and editorial boards past were always there with the scissors, cutting us all free. I know they will continue to wield their shears, snipping away at the bindings that ensnare the rest of the Butler community.

There, that’s one knot tied. 

But there are other pieces to my tapestry I would be remiss not to mention, appreciations I absolutely cannot neglect. I’ll give it my best shot; the metaphor’s still working for me, and I can’t help but draw this conclusion out just a little longer. 

My housemates are rich purple and the lightest spring green, dancing together across the loom to form an intricate pattern of rickety staircases and A-frame angles. Without fail, these incredible women fill my life with violin strings, beaded flowers and late-night string lights. They are striking cuts and elegant outlines, scarlet silk in a world of wool sweaters. Their threads are stronger than the thickest denim and warmer than the softest chenille — and the reasons I love them are more plentiful than any of the clothes they share with me. 

Other friends have sewn themselves into my heart, too. The house on 43rd is full of people I consider family; they fill a gaping space I didn’t realize I had with overlarge shoelaces and mesh shirts, climbing rope and knit hats. It doesn’t matter that it took years for us to overlap, because they’ve looped their way into my life with a purpose — they’ll be with me just as strongly as my housemates.

My best friend is a strand of sunlight. She began as the faintest glimmer, a girl draped in a camouflage jacket and the blue velvet of past sorrow. Four years later, she is a panel full of light, shining an unfettered gold over everything. She is with me at every tangle and is there to share in all my triumphs, and I know she will be with me until my final knots are tied. 

Still others tessellate across the frame in a joyful jumble: professors and teachers mingle brilliantly with friends and coworkers. They layer and contrast and complement one another in an eclectic collection of half-fastened bolo ties, wine-stained carpet fibers, frat shirt pockets, unraveled turtleneck sweaters and “Ducks Unlimited” crewneck cuttings. 

My life is a quilted mosaic, bolts upon bolts of fabric from people I love. I cherish every single thread. 

In places, my tapestry is still unkempt; but it’s different now, it’s coming together. Clusters of threads tugged loose by argument and strain are reinforced with the sturdy bindings of books and handfuls of delicate teabag twine. The threads cut brutally short — loved ones lost, adventures ended, doors closed — are gently and painstakingly patched by friends, family and caring professors. And of course, there are innumerable unwoven threads, all stories yet unfinished. 

So before I finish this metaphor and leave you with my unsaid goodbye, here’s a thought I will articulate: Thank you. More than anything, I cannot put into words how grateful I am for the people and places that have made life extraordinary — something that, at times, I truly didn’t foresee for myself. 

As we prepare to move on from this verdant, over-mulched campus, there are plenty of knots left to be tied in all our life tapestries. With so much left undone, we all have to keep on weaving; we might be unsure of how the strands will knit together, but the prospect of ending with something beautiful is more than enough reason to keep going. In a way, this sendoff is a thread of its own. I hope that those of you who read this see it poking through your own warp threads, especially when you need it most. 

I am not absent from your tapestry, nor are you ever absent from mine. All we need is a little untangling to be reminded of that.

Authors

Related posts

*

Top