Column reflects life changes

A lot can change in five years. Five years ago, the phrase “yolo” (you only live once) was on every young person’s lips, Barack Obama was re-elected President of the United States and Taylor Swift released her fourth album, “Red.”

Also five years ago, I was a bright-eyed senior in high school who was dead-set on becoming a broadcast journalist and who began sharing these dreams, as well as the ups and downs of high school life, with you through this column, Horizons.

Since my first column in August 2012, you’ve journeyed with me through choices, changes, adventures and life lessons. And as my college career is rapidly approaching its end, it’s time for me to pass on this opportunity that editor Don Ratzlaff entrusted me with five years ago.

With only this and next month’s columns left, I’ve decided to take the reminiscent journey back through my old writings, and I realized that this space was a sort of a journal for me: a way for me to process what was happening in my life and in the world and to share the messiness, the joy, the struggles and the little moments.

I even became so distracted laughing, crying and smiling at my younger self that suddenly I realized it was 1 a.m. and my eyes burned from looking at my screen so long.

This past month has been a rough one for me. I’ve dealt with some health issues and some technology issues, and I said “goodbye until heaven” to my Aunt Delora, who was very dear to me and the community of Hillsboro.

One night when I couldn’t fall asleep because my mind was so full of memories with Aunt Delora, I pulled up my messages app and scrolled back through the texts Aunt Delora had sent me during the past few years. (Yes, I’m a text hoarder).

Aunt Delora would often send me messages or talk to me about the columns I wrote, especially ones that related to our shared love of books.

After the column I wrote in March of this year about the new version of “Beauty and the Beast,” Aunt Delora sent me a text about how much she loved it, and in the message, she said, “So proud of how far you’ve come!”

This message brought me to tears when I received it, and it especially brings me to tears now.

Aunt Delora, as well as so many of you who are reading this column now, have been some of my biggest cheerleaders and you’ve stuck with me through the hard times, the good times and the writer’s block that led to some of the silliest pieces I’ve ever written.

Aunt Delora was right: I’ve come so far since my first column about the first day of school in August 2012. My writing style has evolved and my life has taken turns I didn’t expect.

Several times when I would sit down to write a column, I would think that I needed to write something timely and serious, that I needed to share my opinion on a political issue or tackle a relevant debate.

But that has never been the purpose for this space of the Hillsboro Free Press. This has been a place where I’ve poured out the things that have been on my heart, and I hope this has been a place where you’ve been able to take a few minutes out of your day to smile, laugh and learn from my mistakes, successes and adventures.

Before Aunt Delora went to be with Jesus, I wrote her a letter describing some of the ways she impacted my life and thanking her for her love and support.

I want to dedicate this column and the next to my aunt, and I want these columns to also serve as my thank you letters to you, my readers.

Thank-you for reading my words. Thank-you for your messages of support. Thank-you for allowing me to grow and come to where I am today.

Here’s to our last adventure together and the many adventures yet to come.

If you’d like to stay up-to-date on my life and my thoughts after my final column runs in December, I plan to post some writings on my blog: baileykaufman.wordpress.com, and I’d love for you to pay a visit.

After finishing her course work at Tabor College, Bailey Kaufman plans to teach in public schools. We appreciate her spirit and thoughtfulness.