20 November 2007

20 NOV 2007 Remembering Mary

20 NOV 2007 Goodbye Mary


While I’m in , I’m continuing work on my MBA. I have been enrolled in a distance learning program with Norwich University in Vermont for about a year now. Those who love me have asked me “Why would you do that to yourself?” I’ll agree that I probably have enough to do as it is, and scheduling sleep for me would be a better choice. So the answer to their question is “because I’m an idiot.” Our Wing Commander, Brigadier General Field spoke to us all in the first week of our deployment. He urged us to find some way to improve ourselves over the course of our tour. It didn’t matter if it was physical training, personal reading, music, or progress on a degree like I am doing, but he didn’t want us to finish this experience without taking advantage of the chance to leave the Area of Responsibility a little wiser. It’s true, time I would usually spend just living and loving in the presence of my family is many empty hours each day. Completing my MBA assignments is a wonderful way to keep my aging brain from going to rot. There is another reason I’m taking the course. I paid $1000 into the Montgomery GI Bill plan. There was no way I was going to leave that money on the table. MGIB is paying about $12,000 of my $18,000 yearly tuition. So again, countrymen, citizens, taxpayers, as your humble government servant, I say thank you.


Norwich University is an incredible institution. It is the country’s first military academy. Growing up in New England , we were within close striking distance. One of my best friends from home and high school graduated in the corps of cadets, artillery. It has a proud patriot and frontier tradition that has been honed by years of experience and weathering the Vermont winters. It was head and shoulders above my other choices for an online MBA. I’ve never set foot on campus, but I feel as much pride as if I was living there. I have met wonderful classmates and professors from across the country. Many have prior or current military experience. We each bring our own individual geographic and political differences. Such are Americans. I enjoy our discussions and relish the hard work accomplished together on our group studies. It has been a logistic challenge to coordinate group marketing presentations on TIVO and other companies with conference calls transmitted from satellites across broadly separated global time zones.


One of my classmates was Mary. She was born in the Midwest, and through family, school and career had eventually migrated to New England . She was an active team member in a brokerage firm and was taking the MBA course to be even better. Mary had a wonderful family and was enjoying raising two beautiful school age daughters with her loving husband. Our little cadre of students all started about the same time. We exchanged bios as well as photographs of family and pets. We shared exciting personal news and rooted for our home teams. Much of our discussion was centered on our case studies, but the social discussions have been just as lively. It was easy to see Mary’s enthusiasm for life in her communication. She always would be just as happy to hear good news as to receive it. She could quickly identify with experiences from any of our classmates, and always had a sense of optimism and enthusiasm. You could almost hear the excitement in her voice when she would bring a new idea to the forum.


A few days ago, Mary died. She is younger than me, and I’m way too young to be dying. Her children were the same age as my two youngest, and they are way too young to be without their mother. She broke a bone and needed surgery. During her recovery, a blood clot formed and traveled to her lungs, stopping her heart. Young as she was, the paramedics that rescued her were able to bring her back. Too much damage had been done and she only lasted a few days longer in the intensive care unit. I never met Mary in person, but her online presence was so lively that I feel as if we shared a real classroom, not a virtual one. This world of telecommuting and electronic communication is so strange, when we humans are built to work side by side. But it didn’t matter that we had never shaken hands or met eyes, I felt like I knew Mary as a person and a classmate. I still see her online posts in our discussion space and messages from her husband come through in her name. Her death is a shocking and tragic loss. I cannot begin to imagine the hole left behind for her husband and daughters. She was such a great heartwarming and human presence online; it is no doubt that she greatly influenced the lives she touched in person. It is my strongest wish that they find the comfort and support they need to carry on. We who live must dust off, pick up our feet, and continue to make steps. There are no appropriate words, no easy explanations. Perhaps the best we can do is something close to our Norwich University motto, “I will try.”


Jim Paradis said...

Hi there. i am Jim, Christy's Dad. (Ya know, your brother Adam's honey) Christy forwarded your blog link to us all because she is so moved by what you express here. I just wanted to say that I agree wholeheartely and that you inspire great things in the hearts of those willing to read... and listen. Good luck out there... have peace in your heart and I hope to meet you one day. Happy thanksgiving and... thanks!

Chris said...

Hi, Jim, thanks for your comment! I'm sure we will meet sometime soon. We have so much fun with Christy! She is the coolest. Take care,


ChefSara said...

I know what you mean...I have managed to form great friends purely through online interaction! I know Mary will be missed, and your tribute was touching.