“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.