Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Now for the sad part...

I clicked open the email with “Hello from the past!” in the subject line to find a note from from a former student, Josh. How I love hearing from former students. I remember Josh well: a little imp of a guy with a perpetual grin and a frizz of curls and an insatiable curiosity. He played the saxophone…or was that his brother Matt? I think both. I’ll let the email exchange speak for itself … 

Hello Mrs. Douillette -

Would you be, by chance, the same Mrs. Douillette who once taught at Cedar School (at least, I think it was Cedar School?) in Hanover 30 years-or-so ago? If so, I believe I was one of your fortunate students. I seem to remember spending countless hours--and reams of magical tracing paper--gleefully working on projects about dinosaurs and whales while under your tutelage. Happy days indeed.

Anyway, if this is really you, hello! I'm sure I can conjure some more memories of those heady days that will make us both feel much older!


Hi Josh!
You've reached the right person and I'm so glad to hear from you. I'm not
the greatest at keeping track of time, but I'm guessing you must be late 20s, early 30s (?). Am I close? I think I had you in the REACH program. ...  I remember you clearly, and you DID have a thing for dinosaurs! :>) Where are you living now and what are you up to?

Mrs. D. (aka Ruth)

Well, sorry to say (for both of us) that I'm 41. That said, despite the fact that my memory is such that I can't remember changing my kids' diapers, I vividly remember that REACH class. My best friend at the time (and ever since) was John Goff. Somewhere in his mom's house there is a cassette tape of John and I recording some sort of presentation about dinosaurs or whales for the REACH class. I remember that I had terribly laryngitis and that the school bell kept interrupting us! John's a teacher in Maine now.

I have to tell you that your class had a tremendous impact on me. I think about it all the time. Just about everyone in that class went onto excel in life in one way or another. You were the launching pad for a lot of successful kids, and I can't thank you enough for making me feel like I could do things that were creative and engaging, rather than just the ABCs. ...

Now for the sad part - I share this not for any sort of sympathy or to be a downer but, rather, because I was admiring your blog and wanted to show you mine. Over the summer, I was diagnosed with stage 4 stomach cancer. I'm currently in the middle of that fight (I just finished my first round of chemo treatments). I've always been a writer on the side, so I decided to start a blog about the cancer experience. I thought it would be an interesting, real-time dissection of a life-changing event, and it has also proven to be quite therapeutic. Anyway, if you want to check it out, I'd love to know what you think about it.

Ahhh, Josh. Big sigh. I was just getting a warm glow from your memories of my class (Thank you.) and then the punch to the gut. Not at all the news I expected to hear. ...

No need for the rest of my email. This isn't about me. I hope you visit Josh's blog, Stage Four Sarcasm, to wish him well--literally-- and for a dose of his fantastic humor in the midst of crisis.

We all travel along on whatever road we find ourselves, but some endure rides bumpier than others. ~RD


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