Friday, April 25, 2008

Thanks Diana...

My good friend Diana wrote me recently. She lives about thirty minutes from me but with our busy lives we keep in touch more via email and letters than phone calls and personal visits. She wrote of how she wept for joy when she read my last email informing her of my graduation in December. Diana remembers the times I emailed her wondering if I really ever would obtain the college education I had dreamed about for so long. She is not just my former professor, but she is also one of my biggest fans and supporters. Had it not been for her urging me to do it, I may not have returned to college. Diana always knew I could do it, but I didn't always share her sentiment.

Diana and I met in 1993 when, at the age of 24, I entered college for the first time. I registered for fifteen hours that semester and her freshman comp was one of those courses. I performed well in the course at the beginning but wound up dropping out mid-term because I had to work full-time. Actually I didn't drop the course, I just stopped attending and so I failed it for non-attendance. Years later I emailed Diana and told her I wanted to go back to school and she encouraged me to retake her course. With grade forgiveness I was able to earn an "A" which nullified the "F". That was four years ago and I not only earned an "A" in that course, but an "A" in the next two higher level english and literature courses. I chose her as my professor for those courses as well because she is such an absolutely astounding professor, the way she teaches is the way I would teach. In class we discussed issues, we talked, we shared ideas and she fostered interaction between us in the classroom does not often take place in many courses.

I recall in our English Lit course, we discussed poetry. Now let me tell you that I used to say "I HATE POETRY" and I thought it was boring, but not with Diana. We read several poems, discussed their meaning and afterwards we understood and appreciated them so much more. Through those English courses, I learned not only how to improve my writing, but how to analyze and organize my thoughts and how to think critically. Diana maintains I was born with a gift for writing but that I needed the education to help me polish it. With each course I take, especially the writing intensive courses, I improve greatly!

Diana is not just my friend and former professor, she is my mentor and like a member of my own family. She has children my age, she even has grandchildren but she is young at heart and in mind. Diana puts great stock in her family. She is devoted to her husband, grown daughters, adult autistic son, her mother and her grandchildren. And now that she's retired, she has more time to spend with them. With all she has to do in life, there's one thing she's never given up and that's her activism. Diana is a huge activist for Autism, trying to raise awareness through enlightenment and education. We've had many discussions about immunizations and autism and I've learned a great deal from her. Diana is very active in political and social issues. She is very much a common sense type of woman. We've had so many talks about what's wrong with America (as well as what's right) and she's got her finger on the pulse of what's going on in this country. She is a very informed person. And when she believes in a cause she does NOT give up. I strive to be more that kind of person.

Like my family and friends Diana has always encouraged me to do my best. She knows that I have the capability to do anything I want to do in this life. She saw something special in me in 1993 but it needed work, much work. All these years later, I am a better person because of her guidance and mentoring.

When I think of Diana, I think of the poem by Dylan Thomas "Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night"

Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Though wise men at their end know dark is right,
Because their words had forked no lightning they
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright
Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,
And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight
Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

And you, my father, there on the sad height,
Curse, bless, me now with your fierce tears, I pray.
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

I will never forget the discussion we had about this poem in class and once I really understood what Dylan Thomas was trying to convey in this poem, it changed my life. I realized at that moment that our lives are that eternal struggle, fighting to live, fighting to survive. It's not necessarily a bad thing, the fight that is. For me the fight isn't against others, it's within myself as I suppose it is with many people. It's the continuous quest to keep pushing myself further because I know I am capable of so much more than I give myself credit for.

I suppose in that respect maybe we're all a little guilty. If only we believed in ourselves and pushed ourselves and stopped being afraid, imagine what we could do. I used to give up easily, but not as much these days. That attitude keeps me positive--most of the time. It keeps me optimistic about people and the events going on in the world today. I try not to lose hope, I truly believe most people are good at heart and when times are tough, people can pull together to survive, we will prevail. It has to start at "home" though within each one of us. We can't pull together as a nation if we can't pull our own individual self together now can we?

Of course we can rage against the dying of the light only for so long, and then it is our time, no matter how much we fight it, it eventually flutters out and goes dark. But for now, while it's lit, we should keep fighting and do the very best we can do to be the kind of people we want to be, make the very best of our lives that we can, and do our part to make the world a better place.


  1. Wonderfully written Jess!

  2. Friendships! "REAL" friendships... Even when time comes in between you can still move on justlike you see each other everyday!!

    You look like you are a teeny bopper in that pick!! so young looking!!


  3. It was taken about 10 years ago, one of my favorite pics!