Welcome back to a new school year! To the 800 new freshmen taking over campus, to the now-sophomores who have made it, to the juniors who have joined the ranks of upperclassmen, to all my fellow seniors and beyond who are back for more of the same –– I am so happy to be on campus with all of you!
I don’t know about you, but this semester already feels overwhelming, what with all the assignments, meetings and responsibilities piling up around me.
It can be easy to fixate on what’s difficult right now and to complain rather than fill my mind with “whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable” (Philippians 4:8). It can be easy to wish it was still summer.
This summer, I went to two weddings –– my first ones that involved my own friends and peers rather than friends of my parents. The first was my friend Rachel’s wedding in June, which was also my first Franny wedding. Let me tell you, it was wonderful. I’m already excited for more of my friends to get engaged so we can party. On a Troub-related note, Rachel was also my first editor from when I started at the Troub back in 2018, and it was astounding to see how far we’ve both come in three years.
The second was my cousin Eric’s wedding in August. This wedding was markedly different –– partly because it was a family wedding, partly because it wasn’t a crowd of Frannies –– and mostly because Eric’s dad, my uncle Richie, passed away two days before the wedding.
I don’t know how to put it except bluntly.
He went to the hospital in the beginning of June with signs of a possible stroke and ended up rotating between hospital, rehab and hospice for the last eight weeks of his life. I watched all of our dreams of future vacations and the upcoming big, happy family wedding disappear in just a few weeks.
Our initial plans for a summer family bash turned into looking for a wheelchair so he could maybe finally leave the hospital for a few hours, turned into finding a great-aunt to sit with him during the wedding, turned into filing into the church without him.
Yes, the first week of August was the strangest week of my life.
But we still celebrated. We celebrated the gift of Eric’s life and the joy of his new marriage, a joy that arrived even in a week of sorrow. We celebrated the family we did have with us, the aunts and uncles and cousins and siblings we value time with even more now. I think we all realized we never know how much longer we have with each other, so we should rejoice in the time we do have.
It sounds like a story, like the kind you only hear about in sad movies or about a friend of a friend. But it’s the story that happened to me and my family this summer, and I want everyone to learn the lessons I learned –– that prioritizing family is well worth every sacrifice, and that relationships of all sorts are well worth the quality time.
So keep that in mind this semester, when assignments pile up, deadlines come knocking and you’re running from meeting to meeting — that our life is always a gift, that we ought to make the most of every opportunity and that we ought to give thanks for every moment, even the ones we feel like complaining about (and I am definitely ready to complain about a lot already).