Someone close to me died; a professor I was very fond of. She always asked me to come visit her so that she can help me out with my studies. I helped her say the prayers on the Lulav and Esrog last year over Sukkos. This year nobody bought a Lulav and mine got injured because it got swung against a wall when I was helping someone say the beracha (blessing) over it, so with most of the holidays coinciding with Shabbos (the Sabbath), I didn't get a chance to stand in the Succah and help her bentch lulav (say the blessing over the lulav and esrog) like I did last year. I was thinking about it this year and it saddened me that I didn't get a chance to help her say the beracha because I remembered that she really enjoyed it and she spoke to me about it all year how much she was looking forward to it.
But this year she wasn't around and neither was I. I didn't think much of it, except that I noticed that someone had moved into her office. When I asked her about it, she said that it was just someone that works for her.
This past week, I heard that she was ill and that she was in the hospital; that she had been sick for the past few months and didn't want anyone to know about it. She even kept it a secret from her students, and the fact that she was in pain never showed on her face.
A friend of mine, the president of the Jewish organization on campus wrote an e-mail saying that she was sick, and that she "was" a good professor. I wrote back an e-mail joking with him and correcting his use of the word "was," pointing out his premature prediction. It was then -- this morning -- that I received the e-mail back from him telling me that he used "was" because she passed away.
I am very sad about this, but I am not crying because I know that she's in a good place. She was one of those people who you can tell just by being in their presence that they are truly good people. I actually don't know how to handle this -- usually when someone dies, it is someone I don't know and don't care about. When it has been someone closer to me, it has always been someone I knew and I spoke to, but never someone I felt a connection with. This time is different; I liked this person as a person, and I felt close with her when I would see her on campus. She was a very kind person and she had a warmth that anyone around her could feel.
As a prayer, I ask that G-d take good care of her. I know that she will be in my thoughts for some time.