Loss of a friend
It's never easy to deal with the loss of a colleage; even harder to deal with the loss of a friend.
My friend, colleague, and chair, Dr. Karen Duda, passed away on May 6, after a long battle with cancer.
She was a special person; she gave much of herself to bring out the best in all of us. From coming in at the crack of dawn to bring her children to school, to encouraging students and colleagues to "take it to the next level," to guiding the department forward in many respects, she was tireless in her efforts to make us all better, both academically and professionally.
Even in her final days, Karen still made the department a high priority. I got a laugh out of her the last time we met, in her hospital room. She asked about the summer enrollment figures; I just knew she'd ask, so I looked them up just before I left the house to visit her. She laughed when I told her I anticipated her question.
It was sad to watch her health slowly failing. She didn't have to say anything; you could see the pain in her face, and hear it in her voice.
Despite the sadness, there have been two things in Karen's life story that I find solace in. One of those is her spirit. She remained optimistic until the very end; she didn't give up, choosing instead to live life as fully as she could. I am thankful that her spirit no longer suffers, trapped in a failing body.
The other is the love and devotion that Karen's husband Joe showed toward her. As her health failed, I would see Joe at her side, sometimes carrying books or papers, and sometimes just being there with her. With all of the negative examples we see of couples these days, it was refreshing to see him there for her. May we all find the inner strength to do likewise for our loved ones.
Keep her family in your prayers.