“We shall draw from the heart of suffering itself the means of inspiration and survival.” – Winston Churchill.
This past week, I visited a former teacher of mine. I had not seen him in over a year, by that time. My discussion with him covered an array of topics, from my past, my present, and my future plans. However, in the midst of all that, though, it sparked reminiscing as well. I thought of a sweet, dear woman that has since gone and left this world. But, she has not left the inspiration that will she forever have on my life.
I was not very close with this woman that I am thinking of; however, the impact she made on me is tremendous. She was one of the first people to believe in my writing, and to encourage me in my passion. She wrote several children’s books, and devoted her life to writing. She was the reason my grade school had an annual writing contest, which is absolutely amazing to me. Nowadays, almost always, the first programs or groups to go in any institution are the arts. In my opinion, they should be one of the last to go. At the end of the day, when there is no academia left, what do people have to understand the messiness of life? A textbook will not teach life lessons, but arts will. Oh, believe me, they will. I am not writing this to stand on a pedestal, but to say that there were people in my life who believed in the arts.
Outside of school, she judged numerous writing competitions I participated in. I had the honor and privilege to receive an award from her on several different occasions. The last time I received an award from her, she told me, “Continue writing. I enjoy reading what you have to say.” Hearing those words from someone that I know understands the backbone that it takes to publish a work meant the world to me, especially in a frail part of my life. I walked into high school with those words being my motivation to fully bring to surface the writer that was in me. I spent majority, if not all, of my high school career writing. I clung to every beautiful word I put to paper.
My senior year, I began writing a book in one of my classes. It was in those hours of dedication that I vowed to myself that one of my life goals was to publish at least one book. The next time I saw her, I told her I was working on the book. She told me that whenever I was ready, she would help me send it out to editors, as part of the first step in publishing. It was no coincidence that was my last conversation with her, but only God-ordained. Less than three months later, she passed away from a disease that she had been battling for quite some time. She was one of the strongest people I had ever met. Doctors told her she would not live long, but she proved them wrong for years.
At her funeral, the same teacher I reconnected with last week, told us that he had finished his first book, and that he planned on sending it to her to edit and help him publish. Shortly after her passing, I was the first person to edit this book. I do not know if I can properly put to words, just how humbling it was to know that he saw me as much of a writer as he saw her. To be placed in the same category as her was something it took me awhile to grasp. I told myself that whenever I published a book, I would dedicate it to her—my biggest inspiration as a writer.
Now, a little over two years since her passing, my former teacher is coming out with another booklet. Again, I have the honor and privilege of being one of the first to see the work, and edit it. I write this entire post with tears in my eyes, I know her legacy lives on through everyone that loved her and knew her, and especially those that share her love for writing.