So, I've kind of been avoiding this because I'm still not sure how I'm doing with it all.
Medium-length story: One of my students from last spring was diagnosed with stage IV adenocarcinoma a couple of weeks after graduation. She handled the diagnosis and treatment as bravely as anyone could every be expected to. She created a fund to help other children suffering from cancer. She smiled. She believed. She fought. And, she lost. We got a message at school last Monday morning that her doctors had stopped treating her cancer and were making end-of-life plans with her and her family. By the end of the night, she was gone.
I have lost people before. I've even lost other former students (another one, 21, died just before the school year started). I've lost people to cancer. But, I think that the shear tragedy of this situation has resonated more strongly with me this time. This young lady just had so much going for her: she was beautiful, she was fabulously intelligent, she was kind, she was graceful and gracious, she was strong, she was well-liked and well-respected, she had a strong center, ... I could just keep going. I know that everything happens for a reason, and that phrase is actually one of her quotes on her Facebook page. And, I even feel like I can start to wrap my head around a possible reason that this had to happen. But, it doesn't make it any less sad. I know that the emotion is good; I know that it is healthy, and I'm so glad to hurt for her. I know that might sound a bit weird, but this ache actually feels really good because I know (beyond all shadow of any doubt in the whole wide world) that she was at peace with this world. And, while the ache will fade, I hope that the memory never does.
I wrote in a book for her parents that I hoped to be like her when I grow up, and that kind of says it for me. She has left an impression in this world, and she has unquestionably left it better than she found it. While it may sound selfish, I hope that can be part of my legacy. Some others have been far more eloquent than I, and I'm glad to be able to read their statements. But, this is about all that I can do right now.
Rest In Peace, RRT.