People filter in and out of your life. They each play a different role. The most valuable people tend to stick around the longest. Well, actually that’s not true. Some people who make a brief appearance, leave behind the biggest impact. I had the privilege of knowing one such person.
We’ve all heard stories of teachers who make huge impacts on students. This is one of those stories. She started out as my honors public speaking professor during my first year of college. She pushed my classmates and me to exceed our own expectations. She was never rude, but rather encouraging and passionate. Her primary goal was to see all her students succeed.
After that class ended, we stayed in touch. She was an advisor of an honors society I joined. She kept pushing me to apply for an officer position until I finally agreed. She After that, she was more than a past professor: she was a friend, a confidant, a mentor and a second mother. When I look back at my time there, she’s the first thing that comes to mind. She made THAT big of an impact on me.
You can only imagine the horror I felt when I received a Facebook message telling me she passed away. When I heard the news, I was on my way home from an Ed Sheeran concert with my roommate. There’s a reason that denial is the first step in the grief process because my initial thought was, “She can’t be dead. She wasn’t even sick. There was nothing wrong with her.” As I burst into tears in front of my roommate, I struggled to understand what had happened to her.
It wasn’t until 11 months after her funeral that I was told she’d taken her own life. I knew she suffered from depression, but I never knew the degree of seriousness. I guess there was a lot that I didn’t know about her. It’s such a shame she couldn’t see past her own hopelessness and realize how many people adored her, including me.
I miss her every day and think about her often. I think about the proud look on her face when she came to my honors graduation. I think about how she told me we’d meet for coffee in Lawrence after I moved to Topeka – but most of all, I think about how many times other faculty members told me how much she loved me.