So I’m not really sure how to begin this post. I’m finding myself typing and erasing, and typing, and erasing, and sitting here staring into a very bright afternoon, and wishing my mother would call me back, and suddenly feeling very, very thirsty.
Brace yourself for a whole bunch of emotional drivel, intertwined with an inordinate amount of social networking references.
On Saturday morning, I found out my 7th grade English teacher had been prompted by–the now Undertoad infamous–Miss Gotzian, to check out this blog. And he did. And then he followed me on Twitter. So I followed him back. One of his tweets prompted me to his Goodreads page, and out of sheer curiosity for just how many books they guy really has read, I requested his friendship there, as well.
Fast forward to Monday night, when I posted my plan to start waking up earlier, as an effort in discipline and focused self-control (over sleep, of all the embarrassing addictions).
At about 3am, I awoke with a nausea so powerful, that though it did not get me out of bed to throw up, it did cause me to dream of throwing up for the next four hours. May I also submit without evidence that this nausea was accompanied by an immediate fever.
And to top it off, Carter was up at 6:30 yesterday morning, doing that thing kids do when they are awake but mom is not. Hovering. At my side of the bed. Just breathing and looking at me.
Apparently Satan, or one of his minions, follows my blog. (Somebody mark that down in my WordPress Milestone stats!)
By the time I realized I was in the throws of a full blown stomach virus, John was already blissfully ignoring all phone calls in court. I texted him to simply say: “I’m having dry heaves diarrhea, and a full-body migraine. I think I can make it until nap-time. I’ll keep you posted.”
The rest of the day is a blur. I went from sleeping on the couch to sleeping in my bed, and I remember telling Eliott to help Carter wipe and not to open the door if anyone rings the doorbell. More than once, I woke up to her singing the “Clean Up” song, which means she was taking her role as substitute Mom more seriously than I would have expected. Carter just kept waking me up to tell me she was hungry. I know she was not hungry, but I think in her two-year old brain, this was the only thing that might get me out of bed. I’m fairly certain, if it came to it, they could have lived off dry Rice Chex and peanut butter (the two things in the pantry they recognize and can reach).
Needless to say, I didn’t get on the computer at all.
So today, as I weaned myself back into the real world with the BRAT diet, and attempted to re-hydrate, you can imagine my surprise to find a message from the aforementioned 7th grade English teacher, in my Goodreads inbox.
It was written on Monday night, apologizing for the bizarre connection, thanking me for the shout out’s to Ender’s Game and Les Mis, and informing me that Miss G had passed away, suddenly, late last week.
So here I sit, all medicine-heady, and already empty, just stunned.
I immediately went to her Facebook page, which, of course has turned in to an Internet memorial site. Scrolling through the notes and memories, I find myself crying when I see a name I recognize, crying more when the sentiment is exactly something I could have said myself.
The woman was loved.
I actually saw Miss G last summer, the weekend of my sister’s wedding in Spokane. Of all the people I could have seen from my hometown, the one and only person I blocked out any time for was her. She drove out to my hotel and spent the better part of an afternoon talking and laughing and catching up. We hugged a teary goodbye and said we need to do this more often. (“Next time–and every time–I’m back in Spokane, I promise.”)
I sort of hate, now, that the blog post which has turned in to my personal memorial, must also share space with a diarrhea story, but I’m not going back to edit. And not because, “This is what Miss G would have wanted,” (honestly, I don’t think she would have cared) but because I have no reason to remember this moment any differently than the way it happened.
I think I can say with complete honesty that Miss G is the first person of real significance in my life, to die. Does that make me sheltered, or lucky, or what? The geographical distance between us for the last decade has been such that I’m not going to walk around in some sort of a cloud of mourning for the next several days or weeks, as I’m sure many are, in her absence. But I am in a bit of a fog, nonetheless.
People always talk about leaving a legacy. I think it’s pretty clear, that she is one woman who did just that. I only hope that one day, after I’m gone, someone has similar memories of my awesomeness, as I, and so many others, have of hers.
At the end of every day in 5th grade, we stood up, put our chairs up, and with backpacks on, recited this poem together, aloud, as a class. I couldn’t actually find it, even when I searched the all powerful Oz (Google) using entire phrases, so what I’ve written is only what I can remember. There are a few gaps. Come on, it’s been 25 years. But somehow, it feels appropriate.
Appropriate that I can remember in such detail, so many things about 5th grade. Appropriate, that my mom and I were just discussing that Miss Gotzian could not possibly have been in her 50s, she looked way too good to be 50. Appropriate that so much of what I’ve said and done in front of this woman has been so inappropriate, and yet she managed to handle me and my 5th grade idiot self, with grace and a really loud laugh.
And appropriate, that almost a year ago exactly, I reconnected with her through my April Fool’s Day Confession, on this blog, and we’ve been in the most close contact of our relationship since that day.
Jill Gotzian, you are loved.
The light that shines for you
The heart that beats for all,
You bring no need to great
You have no hurt to small.
Step now into the Light,
That in this holy place
Shines through the soul’s dark night
And feels prayer’s warm embrace.
Friend, you are not alone,
Look to the light of prayer
Love’s truth come shining plain,
That God is always there.
In Memory. Jill Gotzian, January 24, 1959 – March 1, 2012.