The thought of death is not something that young people usually deal with. It is not a troubling thought to most of us as we go through life’s cycles. Carol and I have gone through all of the deaths in our family’s previous generation. Mothers, fathers, aunts, uncles, older cousins, and some younger members of our family have all left us.
In each of those cases, there was a period of grieving and now some hearty remembrances of their lives. Our friends have also passed this way on the road to whatever happens next, if anything. We do not simply mourn all of these people, we actually rejoice in their lives. Maybe we are being too cognizant of their time with us and not enough time realizing that they are any longer with us.
Carol’s roommate Sara was somewhat of an exception. Her bout with cancer lasted nine years. She never wavered from her normal life. She traveled, did her churchly duties (in the Quaker faith) and fulfilled, and then some, all of her family duties. She even went to some of her college reunions with Carol and their roommates, even though she was not really interested in going.
In some ways, Diane reminds me of Sara. She is a school superintendent in a north central part of Pennsylvania. She recently changed jobs in 2012. She discovered that she had cancer last year. She continued to work until it was difficult for her to get out of bed in the morning. She was an active member of PARSS (Pennsylvania Association of Rural and Small Schools) and that is how I know her.
As she became less able to handle her position, another of our former supes and member of the PARSS board stepped in to help. Don promised that he would continue her work in the school district. Don had retired from a nearby school district.
Diane was at the end of her dissertation. She is determined to finish it before she passes away. Her determination to fulfill her goals is something that puts her in a different category of person. She is always concerned about the kids in her school district under her care. She has always been that way.
Her current situation is that she has 8 months to live. She has recently gotten back on steroids that will enable her to function and do as Sara did- travel to see relatives across the country. She is concerned that we get a good person on the PARSS board to replace her. Her best time is spending it with her 4 month old granddaughter. She looks forward to lunch with her college girlfriends.
She says that she is calm and thankful for the support of her family and her friends. It is hard not to be supportive of Diane. In my mind, she is a hero.