Books, Blame, Grief, & Guilt

One month ago today, the Trinity School community was dealt a devastating blow, when Alicia Andreou, our Associate Head of School, lost her battle with cancer.
The news came the day before I was to leave for Texas to visit the newest member of our family, and since the “official business” on my part (configuring/publishing the web pages) had somewhat tapered off late that night, I started to pack. That’s when the tears came. That’s when the guilt came. That’s when the regrets came.
 Alicia had replied to an email from me just nine days before, an email that didn’t warrant a response. It was just in her nature to reply to things like that. But I didn’t reply, because likewise, her response also didn’t warrant a response. It simply read, “Thank you!!!! These look like fun! I have not made real cards since I was little may have to try again! -Alicia” But I didn’t reply. And I wanted to so badly earlier that day, when I learned that her health was quickly declining. But it was too late. I didn’t reply.
I did not reply.
We learned that she was hospitalized a few weeks earlier, and we were told that if we wanted to do anything, we could send cards. I put her address in my phone, with the “intention” of sending a card. But I didn’t set a reminder or anything, because to be honest, I didn’t think I would need to. I just assumed that she would get better and be back to work before I even got a chance to go to Target. That’s the way it had been. She always got better. Plus, she was 39 years old! I just didn’t think it was time. So again, a lost opportunity. It was loo late to send a card on April 11.
She was a part of my book discussion group for last summer’s reading, and I truly enjoyed that session. I think a majority of us agreed that the allotted time wasn’t enough. We said we wanted to get together again on our own to continue the discussion. Alicia actually pursued it. She attempted on more than one occasion to arrange a time to meet, and we never did. It never fit everyone’s schedules, which she, of course, understood. She was just as busy as any of us. But I still can’t help but feel a pang of guilt. “Another time” never came. And now it’s too late.
Alicia actually recommended a book I started reading last November. She had let me borrow it a few months before, and I sent her the link to that blog post the day I wrote it, and we both laughed at the huge leap I was making between that book and the one I had just finished. I soon realized that it was going to take me a while to get through it, not because it wasn’t interesting, but because it just isn’t a quick read due to the nature of the subject matter, so I told her I would give it back to her so I wouldn’t be hogging it, and that I would just download it and read it later. She insisted that I keep it, and she told me that she was looking forward to talking about it with me. And again, I thought I had time.

I thought I had time.

So when the email came last week, letting us know that Alicia’s husband had asked a friend and co-worker to go through her books to see what could be used by Trinity, I hesitated. Should I? Do I even deserve to? I finally decided to, because it made sense. Alicia and I weren’t close friends, and we didn’t really work closely together. I could go a couple of weeks without seeing her, if for no other reason than sheer proximity of our offices. But what connected us were books.

So having the opportunity to explore her collection of books was comforting. I am still consumed with an incredible sense of guilt, and of course, the cliché, “life is too short”, has mentally been on repeat. But I see all of this as a lesson. A gigantic lesson. This has been a huge wake-up call for me.

We don’t have time. Life IS too short. This is one experience I would like desperately not to repeat. It’s not a good feeling at all, to know that you could have done more, that you wasted opportunities that you can never retrieve. So…





Take time to talk.

Before it’s too late.

One comment

  1. Mija, the older we get the wiser we become and the more that these words make sense. It is so important to say I LOVE YOU when ending a conversation – whether over the phone or in person – with a loved one and never put off sending a short email or text just saying "I am thinking about you today." I know for me, I love receiving those short notes and whenever I hang up or depart I ALWAYS say I LOVE YOU.

    So, that said . . I love you Mija. So proud of the woman you have become. You had an incredible teacher and example in your daddy.

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