One journey’s end—to my brother

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Photo courtesy of Thérèse Crisman

In times of completion when approaching a finish line, you often find yourself being jerked back to the starting point. Reminiscence guides you down the path that brought you to the end. 

It is my brother’s last week of college, a time of sundry feelings: sadness, pride and gratitude. The semester’s closing is upon us, and students who anticipated a commencement to finalize their time as undergraduates are, instead, scattered throughout the country. 

Here, in the library of our home, the room where he began his studenthood, his undergraduate journey draws to a close. The weeks of displaced learning have proved to be an experience none of us could have ever imagined—phone calls from Dr. Baldwin and Dr. Wegemer on the landline, siblings shushing one another from morning till night because “I’m trying to hear my teacher!” and leaving class to chase the chickens off the porch. What a time.

To refer to this turn of events as “disappointing” would be a gross understatement. However, if there’s one thing I’ve witnessed through being a student at the University of Dallas alongside my brother, it is this: what makes UD so special is its legacy, or what you are left with once you depart. 

What you develop at UD — unforgettable memories, beautiful friendship, intellectual facility and faith — does not disappear when you cross the stage at graduation. Though a great deal of what students look forward to in their last semester has been lost this year, the things that matter most about being a UD student remain. 

My guess is that it is probably quite difficult for my brother to put into words what UD means to him. How do you describe something so special? How can you possibly convey the meaning of the long thread of memories that changed your life? In many cases, you can only find the words to express such things when it is long after their time. Robert Frost is quite right when he says, “Nothing gold can stay.” 

Perhaps the things my brother will miss most are those little moments that build upon each other to create the legacy that UD students cherish. To an outsider, they may seem trifling. If you are an insider, you know they are not. 

They are the laughter, the unexpected conversations, the way the sunlight shines through the periodical windows and the smell of coffee drifting through the bustling Cap Bar. They are the sunsets at Due Santi, the running-in-and-out of each other’s apartments and the PDK sign aglow at midnight. It is the kitchen filled with the smoke of an attempt at grilling steak, the smell of cigarettes on the mall, the worn walls of Braniff and the tolling of the bells—these are the little moments that build a lasting legacy. 

How good they have been. Thank you, UD, for giving them to us.

One journey’s end is here. As you go forth into your next journey, you will take with you these memories. May they never fade.

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