Today (ok, yesterday) I turned 20. 20! I know, I still have to get used to the idea… I must say I think I’ve got a pretty great birth date. February 18th, I feel like it just has such a great ring to it, you know? Biased opinion, sure, but look at who I share a birthday with:
1954- John Travolta
1958- Susan Jane Reidy*
1965- Dr. Dre (MY MAN)
1974- Jillian Michaels
1995- Shane Rudloff (birthday twin 🙂 )
I would like to spend a few moments talking about my dear mentor and guardian angel, Mrs. Reidy…
One of the coolest things I’ve learned about my birthday is that I tend to share it with some of the most incredible people, from rappers, to super awesome people (SHANE), to inspirational science teachers.
For a while I considered it a sign that maybe that is my life’s calling – to be a science teacher, but I’ll get into that later.
Susan Jane Reidy
Amazing. Genuine. Passionate. Inspirational. Empathetic. Kind. Funny. Creative. Adventurous. Sympathetic. Attentive. Happy. Confident. Faith-filled. Enthusiastic. Generous. Loving.
These are only a few of the many characteristics…The list could go on.
Mrs. Reidy had an aura about her that could bring light and happiness to anyones day, friends and strangers alike. She had a confidence about her that radiated stronger than UV rays and a priceless smile that brought instantaneous jubilation to everyone’s hearts. To put it simply, she was and still is, amazing.
I’m not exactly sure as to when I had my very first encounter with Mrs. Reidy; however, I was fortunate enough to have been able to travel on a Marine Biology trip the summer following my freshman year with her as our chaperone, as well as taking her Anatomy and Physiology class my senior year of high school.
Words cannot explain how much this woman meant to me, and I know this post will never truly explain, or even come close to representing how much she influenced me and my life, but I will do my best in painting the picture for you.
A little less than half-way through my senior year, she grew quite ill – stomach pains, headaches, physical exhaustion – of course, being the strong woman she is, she continued her lectures with the biggest smile and optimistic outlook not allowing anyone to think much of it. A few months later, she revealed to us that she was not just sick…she was dying.
This beautiful soul, stronger than graphene…
…how was this possible?
She had been diagnosed with Stage IV Ovarian Cancer.
She started chemotherapy soon after and participated in an experimental drug study to determine whether or not it would help eradicate the cancer and ultimately save the remainder of her normal functioning cells.
We prayed. We cried. And we prayed some more.
I cannot begin to tell you how agonizing it was to watch her slowly physically deteriorate. But yet she somehow managed to maintain her energy and toughness throughout the entire process…whether she did it for her students sake so we would stop crying and fearing the thought of losing her, or if it was because she too feared for the thought of losing her students and family…By God, this woman was determined to beat the odds.
A month or two before graduation, we received word that the chemo was working and that she was essentially cancer free. Best graduation gift ever. Standing on that stage with her, knowing she was there…In all her humble glory…
And with that happy note, we graduated, Class of 2013.
Fate, however, decided to take a turn for the worst…and this time around, we needed more than an answered prayer: we needed a miracle.
IT came back. The cancer reappeared…and was spreading like wildfire.
I couldn’t believe it. HOW could God let this happen? WHY Mrs. Reidy? She has so much to live for?
My sister was in her class and kept me updated daily on Mrs. Reidy’s health. She said she was losing a significant amount of weight, and although she was still Mrs. Reidy, she was unrecognizable…Fragile, exhausted, and in so much pain from chemo and the fight she had to put up against the Devil himself.
On April 28th, 2014 she passed away in her sleep.
Her family and close friends by her bedside, as well as the multitude of thoughts and prayers from her students and the entire school community.
I have never cried so hard in my life. Then again, I have never lost someone who I considered to be a role model, a close friend, and a mentor. It was a new experience for me, one I can say I wish to never experience again…or at least for a long time coming.
I guess God needed another Earthly angel in Heaven…I apologize for words are evading my mind right now. *tears*
To my guardian angel: Mrs. Reidy,
I miss you. With each and every passing day, the thought of you being gone does not get any easier. While I know you are in a better place right now, possibly chilling on a beach enjoying the hot sand, relaxing waves, and warm sunshine (while of course lathered in sunscreen!), I wish you could still be here with us. I wish I could reverse the clock so I could tell you everyday how great of an impact you have made and continue to make on my life. I wish I could tell you how you have influenced my life and helped me become the woman I am today. I wish I could tell you how much you have inspired me to live a more fuller life, working hard to exceed expectations but also enjoying moments of laughter and friendship. I wish I could ask you for advice on certain things – personal, relationship, life things. I wish I could go back just to be around you and your infectious laughter and optimistic personality; even on the worst of days, you always found a way to make them better. I wish I could go back to tell you how much I love you.
Happy birthday, Mrs. Reidy.
Thank you for being a blessing in my life.
While you wake up today, someone is breathing their last breath. Thank God for another day. Don’t waste it.
♫ We could go up, up, up
And take that little ride
And sit there holding hands
And everything would be just right
And maybe someday I’ll see you again
We’ll float up in the clouds and we’ll never see the end ♫