"Character is the one thing we make in this world and take with us into the next."
- - Ezra Taft Benson
May 1, 2013
Farewell, Year of Firsts - by Michela Hunter
by College Voices
Michela Hunter
Freshman, Brigham Young University

I was supposed to be studying — cramming, really. I had my British Literature final tonight and, because it was my last one, had neglected it while I studied for everything else. I was in an armchair in the Joseph Fielding Smith Building, my legs propped up on a footrest and my textbook open in my lap; but my mind was on the insistent rumbling sound emitting from my stomach every couple of minutes. 

I pulled out my phone and texted Kylie: “When did Tiff say we were going to lunch again? I’m starving.” Okay so I wasn’t studying, and I was a little bit annoyed with myself for getting off track so early in the day. But really, how was I supposed to be expected to concentrate on Beowulf identification passages when my stomach was making such a racket? 

It wasn’t long before Kylie’s reply came: “I don’t know. But I’m starving too.”

Neither one of us knew when Tiff was coming out of her final or when we were supposed to take a study break to go to lunch. When I texted Ben, he didn’t seem to know anything about any lunch at all. I sighed and went back to my studying, trying to ignore how hungry I was. I couldn't go and get lunch on my own; we were all going to eat together, for once. 

Within twenty minutes, though, Tiff had called me. I’d meet them outside. Only too happy to leave my Anglo-Saxon studies for another couple of hours, I threw my things into my backpack and headed for the elevator.

Today was the last day Tiffanie, Kylie, and I had with Ben before he became set apart as a missionary for two years — two long years during which the four of us would be apart. We headed to the Cougareat, grabbed some food, and spent the next couple of hours together, just talking and joking one last time before everything changed for good.

It was bittersweet, and if I hadn’t had a final to worry about, I probably would have stayed to hang around a little longer. It seemed surreal that I wasn't going to see my friend for two years. But eventually it was time for me to go back and study more. We had several awkward group hugs during which everyone but the extremely tall Ben got their heads knocked together, took a few awkward (but funny) pictures, and then, finally, Kylie and I said farewell to Ben and headed off to find an empty classroom on campus where we could study. 

I’ve never really been upset about sending a missionary off, but I’ve never before been good enough friends with a missionary for the change to make me sad. These past few months have been full of a queer sort of emptiness as I have bid farewell — first to a few friends, then to my FHE brothers, then to other friends with whom I have grown close over the past school year. Ben was one of the closest of these. Saying goodbye is hard enough when it’s just one person. But now I’m sending off many, many more missionaries than I’d ever expected I would have to say goodbye to.

I have so many mixed feelings about having come to the end of my first year of school. There are some things I won’t be sorry to bid farewell to — living solely on campus, having to figure out how everything works, the (minimal but still present) stigmas of being a freshman. 

But as I was packing up and moving my belongings out of my room while watching our apartment grow gradually emptier as, one by one, my roommates packed their things together and began leaving, I knew there were going to be a lot of things about this year that were going to be hard to say farewell to.

Among these were the incredible view of Mount Timpanogos and the Provo Temple outside our living room window; the spacious apartment; walking to the temple every Tuesday; people in my classes who are leaving for missions; my bishopric and my ward, and the friends I’ve made there. It’s such a strange feeling to know that the people with whom I’ve shared the past several months of my life will soon be gone, some for good. Some are leaving on missions; some are getting married; some are staying at school, but will be living far from where I’ll be living next year. For many of these people, I know that it’s probably not likely our paths will cross again, and I know that I am not the only one who is saddened by this thought.

As we all go our separate ways, however, I can’t help feeling lucky. Of all the BYU freshman wards I could have ended up in, all the apartments I could have picked, and all the roommates I could have ended up with, I ended up with, in my opinion, the best ones of all three. I’m leaving with some pretty good memories from this year, and the swollen Facebook photo album to prove it.

I learned a lot, and know that I can for the most part hold my own in BYU classes. I made some of the best friends I’ve ever made at school, many of whom I know I will see again in a couple of years upon their return from the mission field, and many of whom I know will still be around next year and will always be willing to meet up again. 

And I can't help feeling quite good about myself, too. After all, I made it through an entire year of college. The next ones may not be quite as eventful, but as I say farewell to this one I know I will always remember the new experiences I had, the people I met, the things I learned, and the ways in which I changed. It has been a quite remarkable year of firsts.


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