Well… maybe the right word is “compassionate” or something… Just that in the last year, I’ve gone to tears in front of people over the deaths of Jeremiah, a TEP student, and then of Bill. Prior to that… how many times have I cried in public? I don’t even remember a single instance.
During Bill’s memorial and other times of remembrance for Bill, while I was crying, part of me kept wondering, why aren’t any of his colleagues crying?
Was it that they are older and have experienced close deaths before and were better prepared? Did they feel like it wasn’t a place for them to mourn given their status and the setting? Maybe it meant more to the students than to his colleagues due to the nature of our relationships with Bill? I dunno.
Anyway, I haven’t posted anything to this blog in a while, partly because a ton of other stuff was going on in my life, but also partly because I just didn’t feel like it. I wasn’t sure what to say next…
One thing has become super clear after hearing from a lot of different people Bill had influenced: he was the Great Connector. He made connections across many disciplines AND he made connections between people. And it wasn’t purely an academic career kind of pursuit. And it wasn’t just a pursuit of knowledge and curiosity satisfaction, either. I think he really did care about people and saw in us all these pockets of information which would help all of us if only we’d just sit down and talk to each other. We needed him to make the connections for us, but now we must take on the torch and make them for ourselves and each other.
When I sit down and think about it, I realize (and I suspect this is true for a lot of educators) that learning stuff is really cool, but helping others learn stuff is even cooler. It’s a step away from power by empowering others, but at the same time it is very empowering in its own right in a soul fulfillment sort of way.
Bill’s death was tragic. Bill’s life was glorious.