The Last Word

I recently had the opportunity present itself for my last words to be just that…my last words. Thanks to the knowledge and quick reflexes of Dr. Daniel Rivas at Sea Mar Clinic in Burien, Washington, Friday the thirteenth ended up being my lucky day.

I will not discount the seriousness and walking time-bomb status of this current chapter one bit. What looked like a second heart attack coming on complicated by pulmonary distress revealed a week later, an extensive blood clot running the full length of my right leg into my hip and another beginning on my left. My world stopped. I resigned from a job that held more love and learning, challenge and chaffing than I had ever known in a work environment. Kindergarteners. My season for all seasons.

Leaving Shorewood Elementary School brought a tsunami of emotion from me. Matched only by the one coming back to me of loving kindness from staff and students. Cards and donations that reflected what love can do. Nothing more humbling in this life than to come face to face with that kind of loving. It left me undone.

There has been no time since that ambulance ride where I have worried about what my last words would have been to those that matter so much in my life. Love is tangible. In words spoken specifically as a reminder of how much that person is loved, a touch, a look, a service to one another, a little encouragement, a note, a card, even a little hand that slips into yours and the matching little voice that says, “I will miss you so much, Ms. Stanton.” Tangible. Love is tangible.

As one door closes and this new one opens, there will be a common denominator of love. The love of writing, the love of early readers, the love of learning to transfer the illustrations stuck in my head, to canvas, and the love of stories that reveal the evidence that we are not alone in this journey. Love so tangible it must be written and shared.

As I stand in the doorway of what comes next, I invite you to come along for the ride. I’m warning you now, there’ll be bumps in the road, matched only by the laughter that looking back at things can bring.

“A.S.K. More than an acronym. Ask. Seek. Knock.”


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