A note: this post was written after the death of an acquaintance. I am fine and in good health, but these are definitely questions that I am asking myself.
If you know you have only a short time to live, how do you say the final goodbye? How do you chronicle the last months, weeks, days? Would you even want to have those last moments shared with others?
Some pretty tough questions that I’ve been batting around this week since learning of the death of a long-time Fresno Unified employee who I met almost 30 years ago while doing my student teaching. Elaine was in charge of the parent/child class for teen moms. She would occasionally join a group of us who had lunch together. The other teachers were all seasoned veterans and were kind to a newbie who was learning how to teach in an inner city high school. Elaine always had a sense of humor about the job she performed with the teen moms and their tiny ones. I admired her. As I did all of those in the group who did their job so well.
As the years passed, and I became the veteran inner city teacher, Elaine went on to be an administrator for adult education. I would see her name here and there and remember those early days when I was figuring out how to do this education thing. I would remember her smile. In retirement she teamed up with another friend of mine to tutor elementary children in reading. Again, I would see her name on Facebook posts and remember those long-ago times. She was still doing what she did best–teaching and being kind to those with whom she worked.
Early this week I saw the obituary in our local paper. She and her husband had moved to the other side of country last year so I had lost track of what Elaine was doing. I sent a message to my friend who had worked with her last, sending my condolences. She responded with a link to a blog Elaine’s husband had written during the last seven weeks of Elaine’s life. You can read it here.
After reading the whole journal in one sitting, I began to wonder if I would be able do something like this should the occasion arise. Elaine’s passion for living was summed up well in these posts. The love and care of her husband is so evident. Friends and family posted also which added more to Elaine’s legacy. There were moments of joy and also heart-breaking moments. This could not have been a easy chore for Elaine’s husband, but it was an act of love, love for his wife and for their friends who wanted to share in his pain and her suffering.
Before reading Elaine’s journal I knew nothing about CaringBridge. Would I use it? I can’t say at this point, but I’m glad to know it’s one avenue that is out there for those going through similar situations.