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viewpoint

Roommate appreciation

| Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Three days before move-in this year, I walked home from brunch and watched the Olympics with my mom. Three days before move-in, I texted my roommate, elated that I was going to get to see her in three days. Three days before move-in, my roommate never responded, but her brother texted me to let me know she was, essentially, in a coma.

At the time, that was all we collectively knew. She was later diagnosed with a virus, which had caused brain inflammation, and thus, induced a coma.

My roommate is Grace Garry, and she is objectively one of the best people I know. I’m not just saying that because she’s my roommate — we’ll get to that part later — but because truly, she is a person of the utmost character and strongest values. She’s exactly the kind of friend you want, the kind that will love you unconditionally and call you out when you’re wrong. She’s funny, sweet and caring unlike any other, and for a few days, I truly was terrified I wouldn’t get to experience all of that love again.

Grace came out of the coma the day before move-in. The next day I moved back into Ryan Hall, temporarily without a roommate.

In the weeks that Grace wasn’t in Ryan with me, I realized all the things I had taken for granted when she was here. It dawned on me just how impactful her presence was in my life, and yet how infrequently I thanked her for these things.

I never thanked her for pretending to be asleep every time I came back in the room well after midnight after a late night at the Observer, or for laughing at my jokes when they explicitly were not funny, or the constant flow of love and support.

Most importantly though, I realized I had probably never thanked her for deciding to live with me again this year. I’m not a perfect roommate — my sisters at home were all too happy to see me leave for college two years ago — but Grace opted for a second year in Ryan Hall with me. This notion that someone is really, truly willing to put up with your flaws, your clothes on the floor and your Diet Coke dependence, is incredibly humbling, and more than that, it’s validating. Grace has experienced me at my best and at my worst over the course of the past year and subsequently decided of her own volition that she wouldn’t mind putting up with that for the next year. As much as I try, words cannot fully express how self-assuring that is, and the validation that provides.

As I slowly started telling people about why I was temporarily roommate-less, I kept on getting the question “Are you okay?”

My answer stayed the same up until the very moment she came back: “I’ll be a lot better when Grace is back.”

It’s been a little over a week since she moved in, and I can confirm that I was right. Hopefully she was right about picking me.

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

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About Rachel O'Grady

Rachel O'Grady is a senior Political Science major living in Ryan Hall and is currently serving as an Assistant Managing Editor. Hailing from Chicago (actual Chicago, not the suburbs) she's been a Cubs fan since birth.

Contact Rachel