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Love and gratitude

| Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Alright, this one snuck up on me.

Last year around this time, I sat down to compose what I thought then would be my last piece for The Observer. I took nearly a month to craft my commencement column, my farewell to a school that became home and a newspaper that became family. I wrote and re-wrote it more than anything I’ve ever published, and I remain tremendously proud of that column and the sentiments expressed in it, all of which remain true for me.

Then August rolled around and I found myself with a bit of spare time on my hands as I settled into Ireland. So I started writing columns again, and now 13 columns and eight far-too-fast months later, I have arrived once again at my final column. But this time it’s for real. I promise (I think).

Due to a hectic travel schedule, though, this column is more stream of consciousness than meticulous composition. I think the timing is actually appropriate, though. I returned to Ireland Monday morning after spending the weekend in South Bend at The Observer’s 50th anniversary reunion. In other words, it’s fitting that I write my final column while exhausted after spending a disproportionate amount of my weekend on The Observer.

For a while I went back and forth on what to write about for my final column. Initially I thought it would be nice to write a heartfelt thank you to this newspaper and all it has given me over the last five years. Then, I thought since it would be my last column from Ireland, I would write about how this year has helped me forge a genuine Irish identity after a lifetime spent proudly claiming an Irish heritage that was, in reality, not much more than nominal.

Then I traveled for almost two weeks straight after submitting my most recent column and couldn’t find the time to write. So this column is not really any of what I intended it to be. Or maybe it’s everything I wanted it to be. In any case, it snuck up on me.

We’re at about the halfway point in this column now, so I should probably pick a focus other than my complete lack of preparedness. So, as I turn towards my somewhat uncertain future, much as the class of 2017 is about to do, only one theme seems both suitable and able to tie together all my thoughts: love and gratitude. It’s an added bonus that the theme is just as corny and sentimental as many of my columns have been this year.

Sappiness aside, love and gratitude really do define the past nine months for me. I have loved every minute of my experience in Ireland, despite a few challenging moments, and I am deeply and forever grateful to everyone who has made my time here so miraculously wonderful.

In December, I wrote an extra cheesy column in which I thanked all of the people who made 2016 the best worst year of my life, so I won’t really thank specific people here. I will say, however, that I will also always be grateful for my time at The Observer and everyone who made my first job in journalism the maybe the most fun job I’ll ever have. And, on the heels of a fun, informative and overall brilliant 50th anniversary reunion, I’m especially indebted to the 50 years of Observer staffers who entrusted my peers and me with their legacy (and who know how to throw one hell of a party).

I love Ireland. I love The Observer. I am grateful for the moments, memories, people and experiences that have led me to each, and which each has given back to me. If I had more time and print space, I would expound my love and gratitude even more. But I don’t.

So I’ll close in the laziest, most sentimental way I can, because I’m on deadline and I revel in the the mushy-gushiness of it all. I’ll close with a quote. In his 1988 novel “The Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul,” Douglas Adams wrote a most elegant sentence that aptly captures my time working for this splendidly scrappy little newspaper and living in this beautifully warm and eternally resilient little country.

He wrote, “I may not have gone where I intended to go, but I think I have ended up where I needed to be.”

Amen.

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

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About Jack Rooney

Jack is a 2016 graduate of Notre Dame, and The Observer's former managing editor. He is currently spending a year living and working for the University in Ireland, and writing columns to keep him busy. For more random thoughts and plenty of news links, follow Jack on Twitter @RooneyReports.

Contact Jack