I cried during most of Jon Stewart’s final episode of The Daily Show last night. After Stephen Colbert gave one of the most earnest and ardent—actually, just watch it. It starts around 3:15. You watch it? OK.
After Colbert’s sendoff, I lay on Bear’s chest with tears running down my cheek, and asked him, “Do you think this is how people felt when Johnny Carson left The Tonight Show?”
Doing anything long enough will transform a person into a fixture for the people around him. Four nights a week for sixteen years—more than half of my life—Jon Stewart was there, whether I watched him or not. As I grew older and more interested in the world around me, he became a guiding constant: a North Star. He helped to shape my sense of humor and political views, and taught me that the foundation for both should be the same thing: the truth.
I cried for many reasons. I was sad to see him leave, sad to lose him, and sad his departure meant that there was a generation of teenagers who would grow up without him to guide them. But Trevor Noah can, and I hope will, be their Jon Stewart: their beacon of truth, their revealer of bullshit, their guiding constant. I will no doubt learn to love Trevor Noah, but Jon Stewart will always have my heart.
I cried last night because part of me realized that Trevor didn’t have to be a constant for me. He will be the North Star for the new kids growing up in a world just as sensationalized by its media and just as corrupted by its politicians as mine was. But not me. Jon Stewart had guided me through that part of my life. And now Peter Pan was coming to teach another little girl to fly. I had grown up.
I cried last night because I couldn’t hold it in any longer.
The door I walked through—the threshold I crossed—when I moved to Portland feels like years ago now, which it, of course, is. So much in my life has changed: family, friendships, love. The only thing that remained constant was my job (that and Jon Stewart). For three years, I worked with the same small group of people that became family.
And in the last month, six of my coworkers have left or given notice of impending departure, including me. As I wait to hear back from a job interview, I know that the little mom and pop coffee shop that gave me my first job, and some of my best friends, in Portland, will consist of a whole new group of people soon. This part of my life, as we all move on, is ending, and the threshold I crossed that lead me here is so far away.
I find myself nostalgically looking around me, trying to take in every memory I have, wishing I had paid more attention, done more things, and appreciated my life for what it had been: a beautiful mess. I spent so much time trying to pull myself together, find my path, and figure out my life. Did I spend enough time just living?
I can see a new door up ahead, a new threshold to cross. And part of me doesn’t want to leave. But I can’t stay. There is only forward.
As the threshold nears, and this period of my life reaches its end, I have tried not to be sad. I held it in as best I could. But when Jon Stewart said goodbye one final time, the levy broke and I couldn’t hold in anything any longer.
I am going to miss this beautiful mess I had. And I am going to miss Jon Stewart.
But it’s nice to remember that nothing is really constant. Except death. And no one has died.