Do you ever experience something so memorable that in that very moment you think to yourself “this is something that I am never going to forget?”

For me, I can honestly say I felt that way practically my entire senior year of college.

College has been a wild ride, one with many highs and the lowest of lows. But looking back, it was amazing and beautiful, and I never want it to end.

I never thought it would end this way.

I’ve experienced love and I know great loss, but I’ve never felt anything like this before.

This year feels like I was reading a really good book. I was so into it. I loved the storyline, the characters, the setting. And now it’s like someone ripped it out of my hands and tore the last chapters out right in front of me.

I will never know how the story truly ends.

I’ll never know what could have been — what friendships would have grown, what memories would have been made. I am just left wondering what life would have been, what it should have been.

With the world against me, I wish I at least had time on my side. As my hourglass runs out of sand, it is time for a bittersweet goodbye.

This one goes out to those who fell in love at Illinois State University.

I’m not talking about meeting the love of your life. When I think about falling in love at ISU, I think about myself.

I grew to love myself here, to realize my potential and put it into practice. I learned who I really am and who I want to be.

I fell in love with the campus and with the community.

I’ll miss the echoes of the Big Red Marching Machine practicing for a home game at Hancock Stadium, walking home with Windy City in hand from a night out in Uptown and watching the sunset over the picturesque campus.

I’ll even miss the outrageously long line at the Bone Starbucks, the overcrowded Rec Center on a weeknight and the stress of registering for classes. Although they were frustrating at times, I’d give anything to have it all back because at least it meant I was still a student.

I fell in love with the familiar, smiling faces that I passed every day on my walk to class. At a school with over 20,000 students, you’d never know it was that big. It’s a big-time school with a small-town feel.

Everyone knows everyone somehow, in some way. It’s true that once you’re a Redbird, you’re always a Redbird.

I fell in love with the energy and excitement in Fell Hall. Spending late nights and early mornings in the basement. The thrill of working on a deadline, running down the hall in heels to make it into the control room before going on air. Talking with the DJ before going live for the morning radio newscasts.

I looked forward to going to class and work because my professors, classmates and co-workers were also my friends. Work wasn’t even work because I genuinely enjoyed what I was doing and who I was doing it with.

Most of all, I fell in love with writing. I found my home at the old Vidette building at the corner of Locust and University. And inside that small, red building was my family. The people who were once a group of strangers became some of the most important people in my life.

We spent countless hours working together, but it wasn’t without good conversations, good music, lots of laughter and some healthy competition. I’m grateful for each and every one of them.

The Jakes taught me that it’s okay to let loose, have fun and laugh. Flynn taught me to think outside of the box and embrace my creative side. Andrea taught me how far a smile and “how are you doing?” can go. Lizzie taught me how to work as a team and pushed me to be organized.

Jen and Ali showed me the importance of capturing a moment, how to be a good listener and friend. Jon challenged me and always pushed me to be the best that I can be. He gave me confidence to get out of my comfort zone. And JP taught me the importance of storytelling and that I can do anything that I put my mind to.

In their own ways, they have all made me into the journalist that I am today.

Although my time at The Vidette and at ISU has come to an end, I leave knowing that I am never going to forget the people, places and experiences that shaped me into who I am today.

To the class of 2020, cheers to an amazing, unforgettable four years. To my Vidette family, much love to all of you. I’ll never forget our time together.

GRACE BARBIC is the News Editor for The Vidette. She can be contacted at Follow her on Twitter at @gracebarbic

IF YOU SUPPORT THE VIDETTE MISSION of providing a training laboratory for Illinois State University student journalists to learn and sharpen viable, valuable and marketable skills in all phases of print and digital media, please consider contributing to this most important cause. Thank you.

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