I didn't know her well. She was in my writing class last fall and had signed up for the spring session. When she didn't show up for the first meeting, I emailed her and asked what was up.
She responded that she had bronchitis but hoped to be better soon. When she missed the second and then the third meeting, I emailed to ask if she was withdrawing from the class. She replied that as she'd missed so much already, she thought she would.
By the time she made the necessary call, it was too late for a refund so I told her I'd read and line-edit her pages anyway -- just send them along.
She thanked me and said she would. I was looking forward to see what she'd done with the story she begun in the previous class. It had begun as an erotic fantasy and had morphed into a kind of memoir of growing up in Brooklyn and Miami. It was this memoir part that intrigued me with its straightforward authenticity and I had encouraged her to lose the fantasy and tell this story...
Alas, I'll never know what she might have made of this memoir. When I went online yesterday to record my grades for the Spring term's class, her name was still on the class roster -- followed by the chilling word Deceased.
Wondering if there had been some kind of mistake -- I'd been trading emails with her about a month ago -- I Googled her name. . .
And there it was -- an obituary. She had died in a local hospital less than two weeks after our last email.
She was a lawyer and a psychologist and she'd written a well-received book on psychology. But I wish she could have written that unfinished story. . .
She was only 59 -- ten years younger than I -- and her death reminds me of the fragility of life -- and of the importance of living each day to its fullest.
In memoriam -- Ricki Tannen.