There are so many stories I could tell you about someone I knew who died yesterday. Too many to relate. Too many to start with. He was a friend to me when I felt very friendless; he was a mentor in ways that were too subtle and valuable for me to express.
There's a lot of talk about Teachers Who Matter, and how invaluable it is to find one in your life, but much of this attention is focused on grammar school educators. The time I needed help the most was in high school. I needed someone to take me seriously, to treat me with genuine respect - not respect tinged with benign, teacherly contempt. Tom Heslin, known to and loved by so many as Doc, was that someone, for me and for countless others.
He died in a ridiculous, unfair way, struck by a moving vehicle as he rode his bicycle. In my adult life I was fairly certain that I would outlive this man - he was 25 years older than I, and had aggressive type 1 diabetes - but for him to go like this was a silly, premature blunder by whatever force makes these things happen. And I wasn't ready in the least.
That truck may have been physically bigger than he was, but nothing on earth was bigger than Doc's heart. It had room for everyone who encountered him, and I feel so fortunate to have been one of those people.
Requiescat in pace.