I lost my husband Scott to stage 4 colon cancer on May 8, 2012. He was very sick for almost 3 years, although he should have lived only 12 months after diagnosis. Sometimes it seems like he has been gone for 4 years, and sometimes, it seems like he just died 4 minutes ago. Grief is like that.
When Scott was so sick for those 30 months, I could not keep up with the calls and emails asking about his current health status. To keep everyone informed, I started writing a weekly update on a site called The Caring Bridge. I wrote about Scott's test results and our daily lives and the challenges we were facing - always putting a positive spin on each post - and each entry closed with words of appreciation for the love and kindness and support of our friends. Scott read each of the entries before they were posted - sometimes he had something funny or poignant to add that I had not thought of - and our posts on The Caring Bridge, which began because of cancer, blossomed into posts about our wonderful love for each other, and our site became a place that friends visited for their own inspiration. In those 30 months, we had over 17,000 site visits, and hundreds of visitor posts of support and love. Scott Rittman and I shared our knowledge about how to live and love, despite his cancer, rather than focusing on how to die.
Talking with Scott about our upcoming posts, and writing about our journey (I always composed/typed while crying - Scott did not know, as I tried not to cry in front of him) was cathartic for me, and those musings/posts about love and life and illness also helped me to discover my writer's voice. Who knew that life was giving me a gift during the depths of my despair? Although I did not know it then, Life was already preparing me to be a writer for later when Scott would be gone. I always wanted to be a writer, but I assure you that no one can be a writer and an English teacher, golf coach, musical director, and talent show director, so my writing was on hold. Years before retiring, I started writing a book, which I worked on occasionally for 10-15 years. When Scott died, I returned to that book, and I liked what I read and the specific words I had written. I decided to finish and publish the book, and Student Teaching: The Inside Scoop from a Master Teacher, is enjoying more than a modicum of success. (www.dederittman.com) My new book for children, Grady Gets Glasses, is also taking off. (www.gradygetsglasses.com) And I am pleased to tell you that my weekly blog on this site has around 3000 readers per month!
Always the teacher - I just can't stop being what I have always been - I offer this advice to you. Even if you are a teacher, you must also be a student. Life does have a way of preparing us for the future, even if we do not recognize that preparation at the time. Staying positive and making some time for quiet reflection can enhance our learning during all phases of life, whether those phases be happy or sad. Please communicate this lesson to your students; they need to know that all they are learning is not for naught, and that life will reveal the importance of experience at a later date.
I am so appreciative of life's lessons for me, and for the preparation I received all the years before I became this person who is a writer at age 63. I do know that this is this is true: "Every single thing that has happened in your life is preparing you for a moment that is yet to come." - Unknown
As always, I welcome your comments and suggestions.
Rittman Publishing, LLC ®
Visit Dede's webpage for complete details on her award-winning book, STUDENT TEACHING: THE INSIDE SCOOP FROM A MASTER TEACHER. Many colleges have made the book required reading.
Signed copies are available www.dederittman.com Dede is also a national speaker on The Three C's for Classroom success: Confidence, communication, and Creativity; Avoiding Teacher burnout; and many other inspirational topics.
I LOVE writing. And I love writing children's books- my newest passion. Although it will be a ton of work, I am looking forward to selling my books. Since I was a secondary teacher, I know that I have much to learn about elementary students, and I will have to follow my own advice and be my genuine self. However, I also know that I am passionate about helping kids who have to wear glasses, and that GRADY GETS GLASSES sends a positive message. I am willing to work hard and do all the things that also made me a successful teacher for 37 years. I remain inspired!
Elementary teachers in Western Pennsylvania and beyond - I am willing to come into your classroom in person or as a virtual field trip through a group called Field Trip Zoom. Check them out! http://www.fieldtripzoom.com/
Teacher friends- let me know if you want me to read GRADY GETS GLASSES at your school. I am willing to come in to discuss the creative writing process, why writing is important, and personal fulfillment through writing, along with reading my book. I would appreciate the exposure, and I would make signed copies available for purchase in your classrooms following the reading. Please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org . The website www.gradygetsglasses.com IS UP AND RUNNING!!!. Signed copies ARE available! Grady plush toys are ordered!
Please like Dede's new page Grady Gets Glasses for updates about her children's book. https://www.facebook.com/gradygetsglasses?ref=hl
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