Wow, did he really just assign me to present an article about an airplane crash mere weeks after my own plane tried to fall from the sky? Yes, yes he did. What an ass, I remember thinking.
At the time, I was studying narrative theory with Bud Goodall and our class had just moved into autoethnographic and creative non-fiction stories. When Bud assigned me Carolyn Ellis’s brilliant, sickening piece “There are survivors,” an intimate portrayal of her brother’s death by commercial plane crash, I felt angry. I considered refusing. I cursed Bud’s name, a lot.
But then I read the article, and I cried, and I shared with the class. And later, when I told Bud that he pissed me off, I do believe he laughed. But by then, it was okay because I realized: In reading that story of sudden, unaccountable loss, I learned from my own terrifying situation. I thought about the ways I was “storying” myself. Most importantly, I started writing about it.
And I suppose that sums up what I will miss most about Bud… learning, thinking, pushing, feeling, questioning… And of course, laughing.
Though his passing was not surprising–he chronicled his journey through pancreatic Cancerland well–I couldn’t help but wish he would get a reprieve. Achieve more miracles beyond living with the disease for an extended length of time.
Already, I feel the loss of his presence. My Facebook feed is far less interesting, my inbox poorer without the many (many, many) intriguing articles and links. I know I won’t ever again get to sit across the table while he holds court, a can of Coke in one hand, a twinkle in his eye. And that makes me really sad.
But I won’t forget him or the impact he had on the world, academic and otherwise. And I will take to heart the message he left in his last blog post 10 days ago… and I think you should, too:
“The only thing we do know for sure is that today is ours for the making, for the doing, for the loving, for the caring and sharing and daring. Offer up your prayers for others and open up yourself to receive the blessings of the universe. End each day with the personal heartfelt thanks to others that you would want to be said at the end of your days, and you will never end your days without that sense of thanks you wanted to say and you hope to hear echo through that long last night.”
Miss you, Bud.