I kept my promise to Scott

Awakening-2“Hey, Babes, how was your day?”  Scott asked one August evening after work.

“Oh, it was great.  I had lunch with Tricia and spent this afternoon applying for grad school!  I’m so excited!”


“It’s this great program through Wayne State. It just feels right, you know?”

“No, I don’t know.  You’ve never mentioned Wayne State, ever.  What will you get your master’s in?”  I could tell the man was very UNHAPPY with me, at this point.

“Ummm, I’m not sure what the master’s will be called.”

Shaking his head, “What can you do with this master’s?”

“Ummm, well, I’ll have the master’s I always wanted.  Plus, it’ll get me a raise.  Otherwise, I don’t know.  But Tricia said this program helped her figure out what she wanted to do, so I’m sure it’ll help me.”

“You don’t have a teaching job.  A master’s won’t get you a raise as a sub,” Scott said realistically.

“Well, you know, I’ll get a job next year after a year’s worth of classes and subbing….”

“How much is it?”

“Oh, it’s cheaper than UNL, UNO, and any of those online courses.  I only have to go one weekend a month and the rest is at home.  It feels right.  Look, you know me.  You know, I’ve waited ten  years for the right master’s program to come along.  This one is THE ONE.  I don’t know how I know, I just know.  Please don’t be mad.”


“If you can pay for it, then I support it.  Heck, I’ll even throw you a big party when you’re done.”

Then, I said the craziest string of words of my life, “I PROMISE if I start this program, I’ll finish.  I promise, I’ll get an education job.  I promise you, NO MATTER WHAT, I’ll finish.”

I don’t make promises.  Ever.  It started as a classroom practice when kids asked if I promised this, that, or the other.  I always replied, “I can’t promise tomorrow, so NO I don’t promise you anything except a free and appropriate education that follows the law.”

For years, I stuck to my guns.  No promises to kids, adults, or anyone, because face it, there are no guarantees.

When I made that promise, I had NO IDEA what was around the corner.  In other words, it never occurred to me that NO MATTER WHAT meant cancer, then death, and the worst loss I have ever faced.


At the time, two years seemed like nothing.  A blip on the screen of life.  Less than a year after that argument conversation heated discussion, Scott left this Earth for Heaven.

The first semester was the best.  I was subbing regularly, had time with the kids, and lots of energy to do the fun and engaging work that went with classes.  I loved it.  Within a week after the first semester, I was offered a teaching job AND Scott was diagnosed.

Needless to say, it became much harder to continue, to keep going.  Scott kept cheering me on.  “You want this!  You can do this! You love these classes!”  I spent time in the hospital with him, completing homework, while he slept.

Then summer hit, and I continued to work, as his health failed.  I cried.  This was taking time away from him.  I hated it, resented, and started to feel angry about it.  But, I kept my promise to Scott.

“You work while I sleep.  It’s win-win.  We need this master’s.  You can do this, Babes, I believe in you,” he said over and over, as I cried and begged him to release me from my promise.

He never did.  He just kept cheering me on, until the day came where he never spoke again.

Somehow, without him, I continued and moved forward.  Ten days after he died, I was back in the classroom and started the action research so I could keep this promise to Scott.

Today, I handed in the paper, which has a 99.999999% chance of being approved.  In April, I will finish my presentation, and in May the paper certificate will show up in my mailbox.  I will have a master’s, that could open doors.  My kids will know that I finished, this goal during the hardest time of my life. I pray it will be a strong example for them to pursue their dreams, even when life is tough.  I will remember, for the rest of my life, that I didn’t quit, no matter what.  I kept my promise to Scott.

Once that paper left my hands, I didn’t feel like planning a presentation or like celebrating.  I didn’t feel happy or proud.

I felt the loss run deeper than before, but at least I kept my promise to Scott.

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  1. says

    I’ve been reading for a long time, but I don’t think I’ve ever really commented.
    My heart breaks for you and your children every day, and I am in awe of you for accomplishing this. I know it must bring you some great amount of peace of mind to have it done, and to have the job security that comes with it now. And I know you probably feel guilty for having feelings that like. And I want you to know that although I don’t know you personally, I am proud of you. And inspired by you.
    And I hope you can find joy and pride in this, despite the grief.
    Much love. <3

  2. says

    I’m so happy and proud for you to have accomplished so much. I’m sorry that it’s got a lot of bitter attached to it. Maybe, even, no really sweet part? But it is an impressive accomplishment that will inform your future in the best ways. It’s a good thing, Courtney. It’s a good, good thing and a right thing and a thing to be proud of. I hope you’re able to relish some of this sense of accomplishment and find joy in it.

  3. Liz Cooper says

    I am so glad you kept your promise! Keep doing those things that would make Scott proud and know that he is always with you. Those are the two things that kept me from tailspins after losing my mom…not giving up but moving forward knowing each step along the way I was doing something that would make her proud. It wasn’t/isn’t always easy but it keeps the positive going. The milestones still hurt but I try to find the joy. Keep being you and doing the best you .can. You will find your own way to take on each day.

  4. says

    There are so many times that I think of you and wonder where this well of strength and perseverance come from. It’s inspiring and horrible that you have to be this kind of strong. It’s encouraging. it’s heartbreaking. You’re a tremendous human being.

  5. says

    From this they’ll learn not just how strong and brave their mom is, but how unselfish their dad was about it when you could have spent that time with him, and about how much he wanted them to be taken care of with how that degree could help you.

    Not celebrating is okay- it’s what happens before and after the celebrations that matter anyway. <3

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