Friday, April 20, 2012

Suddenly...


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.
  
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20 comments:

Kath said...

I'm so sorry. Thank you for the reminder of how fragile and fleeting.
Bless your heart for encouraging her and taking such a generous interest in her writing. I know you gave her a wonderful gift.

Linda@VS said...

You and I learned similar lessons yesterday. In my case it was my nearest neighbor, a lovely woman in her early to mid-40s whom I'd neglected to get to know more than casually. I am kicking myself all over for thinking there was plenty of time to do that later.

Mamabug said...

We just never know what life has in store for us. We need to live each day like it's our last. so sorry she didn't get to write her story.

KarenB said...

I'm so sorry, Vicki.

Deanna said...

So sad. Life is really just a blink of the eye and it is up to us to live it like there is no tomorrow!

Brian Miller said...

ugh...this is hard...i am sorry for the loss of the student...dang...esp when you are working with them and into their story...ugh...

NCmountainwoman said...

I had seen her book "The Female Trickster" but never read it. So sad for you to learn of her demise in such a shocking way. Well, I suppose it would be shocking no matter how you heard. We just never know...

L. D. Burgus said...

It is tough to see things like this happen. The flower is fragile and beautifully white but can drop in an instant.

Wayfarin' Stranger said...

Sad, Vicki. But a timely reminder to live life to its fullest. As the country song says, "live like you're dying."

Darla said...

Indeed. A lovely memorial ... and reminder.

Barbara Rogers said...

So sorry about this news, Vicki. A friend in our community spoke of a recent death of a two-year old, sudden and wrenching. It made me think of how memorial services are planned by the survivors, and that I want to write mine so it will represent my wishes rather than that of relatives who may not know what I really believe. I am so glad that you are here part of my life, now. That's what's important to me. Blogging may be a new form of community, but we certainly do share all aspects of life.

Vicki Lane said...

Thanks for the thoughtful comments, folks-- as I said, I didn't know her well but the news nagged at me till I wrote about it.

That's it, Larry -- a brief flower...

Yes, Barbara, blogging IS a kind of community -- one that I'm happy to be a part of. All of you have enriched my life immeasurably.

katy gilmore said...

Oh Vicki - a beautiful "memento mori" -

Pat in east TN said...

WOW,what a shocker!

Ms. A said...

Life is very fragile and one never knows when it might end.

Frances said...

Vicki, when I began reading this post, some part of me began to prepare for what I might read in a later paragraph.

That you were able to read this lady's writing and that she let you read and comment upon it is good.

What happened thereafter is not good at all, but also is very much part of what our lives meet when they do connect.

Spring blossoms and humans who might be very talented do have similarities.

I won't write more here, Vicki, but do know that this post resonated.

xo

Inger said...

Life is so fragile -- I'm sorry you had to experience this in the way you did with just that word. This was a very nice tribute to her.

Carolyn said...

Oh my. Sad and shocking. A reminder that our time is precious. I'm the same age and wonder will I get my story written. Life continues - I'm celebrating the birth of my first granddaughter. Blessings.

Coloring Outside the Lines said...

We never know who is going to touch our lives. Life is so short to waste even a second of it. I'm sorry for her family- she was so young.

That gentleman's lady said...

Ah man, that is so very sad.