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Thank you for both homes

| Friday, May 15, 2015

Which is a better indicator of how much you love someone: tears and the ache of absence when you leave them, or the ability to pack up and leave joyfully knowing that a perfectly happy and all-around satisfactory reunion will come eventually?

That question has popped up several times during my years at Notre Dame — facing that first yawning, interminable summer after freshman year, feeling as if I had to pack up and leave my friends just as I found my rhythm here. And then, in the middle of August, gathering up all my things again and carting them down to campus just as I remembered how much I love the home I belonged to before I ever heard the phrase “home under the Dome.”

It’s no exaggeration to say this duality between loving my time on campus and longing for more time spent with family has defined my years at Notre Dame. It’s the twin desires to define myself in a new place full of former strangers and the desire to hold on to the identity and sense of direction I owe to my family and community at home. Looking back, I know there’s nothing more important I could say in my last Observer piece ever than a big, heartfelt-yet-perhaps-clichéd thank you to my parents, who offered me the chance to belong to both places.

As a parent, what would it feel like when the acceptance letter tells your child “Welcome Home” in big, exuberant letters, and yet you can’t help but think home is the place your child is leaving, not the place they’re going to? What do you say when your child calls home looking for advice on switching majors from pre-med to English, on studying abroad for a summer or a semester, on accepting an internship across the country? On choosing how to spend the next few years after college?

Remembering all my parents have done for me in each of those times I stumbled in the past four years, what can I possibly say but thank you?

At what point are the words “thank you” not enough to contain my gratitude; when do I need to couple my written platitudes with decisions and the kind of actions that proverbially speak louder? And when that time comes, what could I do that would show you the same love, compassion and support you’ve shown me time after time?

These few column inches are a shoddy start, but I want to say — with the witness of anyone else who stumbles upon this piece in print or online — thank you. Thank you for years of effort preparing me to make my way through college and, alas, make my way out of it this weekend. Thank you for saying yes to everything good in my life and for helping me say no to the opposite. Thank you for teaching me that there is a difference between right and wrong, and that the right is always within reach.

Notre Dame has become a second home for me, a home you sent me away to instead of a home you built up around me. Thank you for both of them.

Ann Marie Jakubowski is graduating with majors in English and Spanish and a minor in the Gallavant Program in Journalism, Ethics and Democracy. She would like to thank Shakira, Taylor Swift and her roommate for four years of entertainment. For book or recipe recommendations, email annmarie.jakubowski@gmail.com

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

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About Ann Marie Jakubowski

Senior News Writer, formerly Editor-in-Chief. English and Spanish double major, minor in journalism, ethics and democracy. Grand Rapids, Mich., native. Notre Dame Class of 2015.

Contact Ann Marie