This week's been interesting so far -- not only have all the tanned, rested and relaxed undergrads returned to the nest (bringing with them their tanned, rested and relaxed attitudes -- buncha friggin'...), but Friday, I found out my advisor from grad school had finally lost his battle with cancer and died in his sleep.
I think I was more or less...numb...Friday, and I (mercifully) was able to not dwell on it too much this past weekend.
...then came the funeral yesterday. I'm not even sure if I'm able to speak, type or process it fully yet.
Ed was Jewish, which meant the service was a beautiful, beautiful celebration of his life. As the Rabbi was performing the service, I actually realized that I knew more about the Jewish faith than I realized. The point that totally twisted a knife in my heart was when his younger daughter, Claire, read a letter to him. A good-bye letter she wrote for him.
Ed's diagnosis with cancer came early enough that his family was able to process this with a good amount of lead-in time. I mean, his daughters even put on a fashion show for him the week before he passed away, so that he could select what they should wear to his funeral, so that they knew he'd approve of and like their clothes.
When we came to the registry book, there was a photo of Ed with Hannah and Claire (his kids), that took me by surprise. I stared at the picture for a good 30 seconds, trying to figure out when it was taken. At first, I thought it was an older picture of him, because he had a full beard -- but then I saw the girls, and I realized that this picture had to have been taken in the last month or so, because of how old they were in the photo. As I started at the photo, I had three thoughts that ran through my head, all within about the span of two seconds:
"Man, he looks really thin." Ed was never a petite man, and the chemo just...gave him a physique that changed his overall look.
"He looks good with a beard."
and "God, I wish that I could have told him how good he looks with a beard."
Amazing what thoughts will run through one's head -- especially when you realize that you can never say them to the person you're thinking about.
There are professors, and then there are people like Ed, who went the quantum leap past educator to friend. I was at least able to send him one last insanely sarcastic (yet filled with love) email message before he died. I think he knew how much he meant to me, but...for those of you in grad school: think for a minute about what it would be like losing your advisor. Think about the years of experience, mentoring and genius given by this person. Think about how annoyed and frustrated you can get at them -- and then think about not having them.
Death tends to make me wax poetic, and get all openly emotional.
So -- enjoy the remainder of your week Sleep late one day. Go watch an old black-and-white film. Eat chocolate when you're in class or at work.
And go hug someone. Tightly.