In the last week my husband of 32 years has died. Two days later the pipes in my house froze, burst and flooded my home. Part of me is in great sorrow. Another part of me is numb, but going through the motions of planning a funeral and a eulogy. My blog posts have been missing for the past two Mondays because I needed to regain some equilibrium.
I’m living the truth of this quote in front of you right now. Change IS the only constant we can count on. The status quo is non-existent.
In anyone’s life there are two different kinds of change.
1. There is the change we want to make for ourselves. Frequently these changes of choice occur at this time of year. We evaluate our lives and decide to lose weight, or exercise more frequently. We decide to do a better job of saving money. We may step up to a dream we’ve had or a risk we have been afraid to take.
2. The second kind of change is forced upon us. It is outside our control, but change we must. It may be as simple as new software at work or more challenging… a new boss or business owner. Or it may be even more dramatic and sudden. Bam! Your job is gone. Yikes, someone walks out of your life. Or one day you may be packing away the Christmas decorations, pause to take your husband a cup of hot chocolate and find that he has passed away. That is what happened to me last week. My hubby has had a heart attack and two strokes this past year, but still the finality of this stunned me.
Fourteen years ago I had to say good-by to my sixteen year old daughter, Kelsey, who died of brain cancer. How did I recover from that? Slowly. And frankly you never fully recover from the loss of a child. However, only a couple of years before she died I read a magazine article that was quite a help to me after her death. I have since searched for this article to share it with others because it made such a difference in my life. (Oh, the power of writing our inner thoughts down). Unfortunately I don’t remember the title, the author or the magazine. I’m embarrassed to admit that. I only remember the message because it was so powerful. Maybe you read it too. Maybe you can help me find and thank that author. I know I read it before 1999.
The author was a woman. She had an older brother who was outstanding in every way. He was outgoing and popular. He was president of his high school class and an accomplished athlete. Everyone in town adored this young man. The author of the article was his younger sister. She lived in his shadow but she adored him also.
This star of a brother went off across the country to college. He fell in the shower and died suddenly. When the call came in to his parents his sister was also home. She watched her parents react to this phone call. She knew in that instant that she not only had lost her brother, but she had also lost her parents. She knew they would never recover from his death and they didn’t. She essentially lost her whole family on that day.
When I read this article my youngest daughter had already had one battle with a very serious kind of cancer. I always knew there was a chance that cancer would come back. I made a decision right then, that if the worst happened my remaining daughter may have to lose her only sibling, but she would not lose her mother at the same time. It was a choice I made right then. Some changes you don’t choose, but you always have the power to choose your reaction to those changes.
When the cancer came back and we lost our daughter, Kelsey, I had to live that choice. It wasn’t an easy choice. It took quite a bit of effort. But I I refused to be less of a mother to my remaining daughter, Jodi. I would also not be less of a teacher to my students. This was another difficult choice because Kelsey was a sophomore when she died. I taught juniors and seniors then. I had to live through all their proms, senior pictures, and graduations at the same time that Kelsey should have been sharing those experiences.
Almost everything about my life has changed. My immediate family included a husband and two daughters. Now two of these four are gone. What remains is the choice I made 14 years ago when we lost Kelsey. I will NOT be less of a mother to Jodi. I now also have a son-in-law and five grandchildren who need the full me, not a shell of my former self. And that is what they are going to get.
I also will continue to visit college level student teachers, my current role. I will encourage as many people as I can to enter the teaching profession because this role was so fulfilling in my own life. If I were teaching full-time right now, I would share this story and my commitment with my students. It is the way I always taught. Life lessons are as important as the lessons in the textbook…frequently more important if you ask me. When I have to face a difficult life lesson, it is the time I miss my full-time classroom most. My students and I have weathered many things together. Daily contact with young people can keep you optimistic and looking forward during the worst of times.
Please remember my husband, Wayne and our daughter Kelsey in your prayers. This is a photo taken of the two of them a long time ago. I can tell by how little hair Kelsey has that it was taken just following her first battle with cancer. Kelsey must be about 7 in this photo. She died when she was 16. I adore this picture because it shows the love between them.
Remembering Wayne and Kelsey Easley
TEACH…To Change Lives
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