Katie pretty much said everything I wanted to say about Dr. M. Thank you, Dr. M, for the school I love.
So I've been thinking about mortality lately. More than usual, I mean. One of the things that frightens me most is this: that every teacher I've ever gotten close to, every mentor I've ever had, is probably going to die before I do. Yes, yes, I know it's not a given, and that one does learn just as much from younger folks than older folks, but... still. Those Who Have Gone Before are going to... go before.
Not just with dying, either - stepping out, stepping down, from a project or a role, too. I haven't hit this too much yet; I've still spent the majority of my time in a system where the model is that teachers stay behind and students graduate. And so far, when someone's stepped out of certain shoes, and they or others have asked me to fill them, I've been able to grow into them fast enough to walk to wherever it was that needed walking-to (with many padded layers of socks, and many hands to hold as we stumbled along the way). But there's usually a sense of please please come back take this back you do it so much better or at least a must pass this to somebody more competent in turn sort of thing going on. (Though I am getting better about this as I start internalizing the idea that I'm worth something nonzero.)
But. People leaving before me. In a way where I can't call them back, or ask them for advice again. That scares me. Probably more than my own leaving-anything scares me, or even my own departure from something (including this world). It's one of the reasons why I am so ridiculously concerned about my own transitions-out; I try to buffer as much potential suckiness for other people as I can. Because each leaving is also a time for others to do some stepping-in-and-flourishing - each goodbye brings with it the potential for multiple happy hellos. And it's the latter that I want to look at, shepherd, watch - pre-emptively, if need be, if I can't do it after the cutoff.
One of the reasons I live life so furiously, appreciate it so madly, is that I regard (and have as long as I can remember) everything I've gotten past the age of 3 to be Super Extra Mega Bonus Overtime Round. The constant drilling of "and when you were little you almost died!!!" accomplished not the intended instillation of caution in my early childhood head, but a sense of waking up each morning and going "Whoa, I'm still alive! That's awesome! Fascinating. What shall we do with that today?"
It kinda puts things in perspective. Have a shitty day? But wait! I am alive! There are so many things that... well, I'm glad I've had the time I've had. I hope for more - much more - but don't expect it. I build my life to pass the bus/raptor test because of that. I mean, the first time I ever wrote a will, it was in colored pencil and specified which of my stuffed animals should go to which cousins, and that my $100-something life savings at the time should go to my little brother for school. I build my life so that if I disappear, the things and people that I love don't get screwed over.
And when I love, I love furiously. I care and care and care about that which I care about in a way I can only describe as very Fire Tiger. It's fierce enough to stop itself from being fierce; sometimes I love things enough to not love them, to try and rein and temper the flames so that they don't consume whatever it is that I love. It's one of the hardest things I do. Learning how not to get angry, how not to lose my temper, how not to fight, how not to utterly destroy - that's tough. Directing and tempering the flames is hard, but also very valuable.
When I leave this world, I will leave it as a fighter, and I will leave it gracefully.
It will be fun.