Knabb: Savor each mile of the ride

Justin Runquist

Believe it or not, I considered writing a “typical” column this week. During my Friday breakfast, I want to read opinions that spark laughs or fury, too.

People who have followed my columns this semester know I’ve written about some off-the-wall stuff. I’ve touched on unusual topics ranging from my mother’s death, to finding happiness, to enjoying the wondrous experience of writing a 10-page college paper.

Rush Limbaugh and Howard Stern would probably be pulled from the radio if they followed my example.

There’s a part of me that’s excited to start reacting to “normal” issues, such as California’s politics or how to understand college girls. However, “normal” just doesn’t reflect what life is like on Villanova’s campus and in my heart right now.

Melissa Harrell’s sudden passing really hit home this week. After a tough summer and early semester, our community has searched hard for the end of the storm.

Yet, this tough loss asks us – every single one of us – to step back and reflect on things even harder.

What’s amazing is how our University continues to rally around tragedies and lift each other up every time.

Alumni return to pay tribute and offer support. Students, faculty and friends fill our church to celebrate Melissa’s life, even if they never knew her.

We can’t help but be moved by the spirit of this community. It’s human character and compassion at its very best. We’re all different, yet we share one passion: we’re Villanovans and we’re in this together.

I’ve learned another thing is certain. I’m reminded of this fact every time my alarm clock introduces me to another day. I’m reminded of it whenever someone laughs or cries or dances. I’m reminded of it each time I glance at photos of my mother’s smiling face. It’s a fact I wish could ring through campus: that being human is an awesome and glorious experience.

“Knowledge of our own mortality is the greatest gift God ever gives us,” Anna Quindlen says.

“It is so easy to exist instead of live. Unless you know there is a clock ticking.”

That idea got me thinking. I sat down and calculated that today would be my 7,696th day alive.

I’m so thankful for every single one of those days.

Of course I’m grateful for the best moments, but I’m also thankful for the chances to feel pain, experience heartbreak and accept defeat.

I am even thankful for those mundane weekdays. You know, those times you stick your head in a book, freeze on your walk to class or sit in traffic jams for what seems like forever. The best classroom lessons are learned more in these random happenings than in any room in Bartley Hall.

We can’t expect to find answers at the end of each experience. But we can choose to wake up each day and give it all we’ve got. Perhaps doing so may be the very best tribute we can pay to those we love and miss.