Sunday, September 1, 2013

My small tribute to a life lived so bravely

Yesterday, this world lost an incredible soul.

A dear dear friend and coworker passed away yesterday after one of the bravest battles with cancer that I have ever seen.  She passed away peacefully with her family surrounding her.  The night before she died there was a big, powerful storm in the area and I looked at Carla and said, "This is the storm that Ginny is going to ride out on." And she did.

My heart is so so heavy.  And in some small attempt to put down some of the weight, I decided to put down a few thoughts here.  As it sometimes is, writing will be my solace for today.

Ginny and I worked together.  The first time she met me, she thought I was dumb.  I was a new teacher at our school and I had to quickly confess my terrible sense of direction to her and ask for help getting to another school in our district that was truly just down the street.  She started giving me directions and my face quickly went blank.  She had to draw me a map on her whiteboard.  Luckily, Ginny was never big on passing judgements and she and I quickly became close friends.  Ginny taught special ed and so we often worked together with students that were in my classroom.  Those kids benefitted from having Ginny in their lives more than so many of the other interventions that were put into place to help them.  It's like Ginny herself was an intervention.  Her being in their lives just made them more successful.  That is the kind of power that she had.

Ginny and I cemented our friendship when we decided to work on getting our masters degrees together.  For several years, Ginny and I would head to classes together right after school.  We learned and laughed together as we worked our way through some great classes and some not so great classes.  There was a horrific reading class where we joined forces with other teachers in the class to convince the teacher that she was wrong about so many things.  There was an even more horrific puppet making class, I am not kidding.  But the incredible thing about being in these classes with Ginny is that no matter how bad things got, they never seemed that bad because Ginny wouldn't let them.  She always found us something to laugh about or always found a way to make things seem not so bad.  She had this way of finding positives in situations were there were no positives that anyone else could see.  So, yes, we had to go to this awful puppet making class, but Ginny would remind me that at least we got the change to walk outside on the way from our cars to our class.  She was just that kind of a person.

And when she entered this fight with cancer, she managed to bring that positive spirit with her into battle.  We were all truly in awe as she managed to stay positive and put forth these messages of hope and healing.  The very first time I went to see her in the hospital, there were all these people looking sad around her and then there was Ginny, sitting in the hospital bed, with this giant smile on her face.  It was like she was just so glad to see everyone.  And even when things got bad, Ginny managed to put forward this strength that I have rarely seen in anyone else.  She taught us all so much as she so bravely fought this fight.

Yesterday, her fight ended.  Yesterday her body left this world.  To say she will be missed, is not quite accurate.  It is not enough.  Ginny was an integral part of so many different communities.  There are so many holes, in so many hearts that won't ever be able to be filled.  There is a gaping hole in my heart and her absence is felt so strongly. But the thing about Ginny is that she isn't really gone.  She meant so much to everyone that knew her that there is no way that she is truly ever going to be gone.  Because though there are holes that will never be filled, there are also places in our hearts that will never go empty because she had filled them so fully while she was alive.  The way Ginny made us all feel, the things that she taught us, the memories that she left behind, those are all so much stronger than the cancer that took her from us.  And I am so so thankful for that.

Last night a few of my friends from work came over to our house.  We had some drinks, we ate a lot of ice cream, we watched Millie and allowed all of that to soothe our hearts for a moment.  We talked about Ginny and that is what really soothed our souls.  We remembered her and were thankful for her presence in our lives and it felt good to be surrounded by people who understood.  I know that walking into school on Tuesday morning is going to be tough.  It will feel different to be in that place knowing that she will never walk those halls again.  It will be awful and it will be wonderful to be in the place where Ginny loved to be.  It will be awful and it will be wonderful to be surrounded by others who are grieving and I know that while it will hurt, we will all pull strength from each other.

My greatest joy in all of this is that Ginny got a chance to meet Millie.  Ginny got a chance to hold her and laugh at her and talk to her.  Ginny got a chance to see me as a mom and I know that made her happy.  Ginny was there at my wedding.  Ginny was there to see Millie.  And I know that Ginny is going to be with me, and all of us, as we continue on along our paths.

Ginny, if you can see this, know that I hope to make you proud.  Know that I will think of you every day and think about what you would do in any difficult situation.  Know that you will inspire me for the rest of my life and help me to live a better life.  Know that you have touched my life in a permanent way and that I will forever be changed because I knew you.  And know that I miss you so very much, in the deepest of ways.


  1. Ginny was probably the kindest, most selfless person I have ever met, thanks for sharing your thoughts about this truly wonderful person and friend.

  2. I am so sorry for your loss. It is amazing what an impact each of us can have on the world--from what you write, Ginny's has been far-reaching, and deep at the same time. I wish peace to her, and to those who love her.

  3. Thinking of you and yours. This sounds like such a loss for you and for your whole community.