This week has been one of the most wrenching of my working life--and it's only Wednesday morning. I haven't wanted to blog about it before word got out--but now the various news agencies are covering the story, so I'll talk about it too.
An adjunct faculty member in our department died in a diving accident on Saturday. He was a skilled diver, with multiple certifications and advanced equipment, and he and his dive buddy were exploring an underwater cave, over 200 feet below the surface of the water. He died doing what he loved, but the thought of that kind of death has kept me from advanced SCUBA certifications.
A side note: when I first started blogging, I tried to protect identities. In the above paragraph, I notice I am still doing that. My colleague's name: Patrick Peacock.
On Sunday, I talked to his spouse who also teaches in our department. It was the most heartbreaking conversation that I ever expect to have as an administrator (although the minute I utter such words, I worry about tempting the gods).
Yesterday, I covered the two classes that both would have taught. Some of the students wept; several of them have started a shrine. Many of our students have strong artistic sensibilities, and it will be interesting to see what they create.
I returned home last night, exhausted to my very bones. Part of it was teaching two classes in a day; it's been a long time since I did that in an on-ground setting. But the larger part of it, of course, was the sadness surrounding the day.
In addition, we have had some job shifts--more on that development later--it doesn't feel right to blog about that now, until that news becomes more widely known.
In the last few days, my brain has returned to the very first time I ever met Patrick Peacock, during his job interview. He talked about the dissertation he planned to write, a fascinating exploration of a subject that I can no longer remember, but I think it was about slavery as experienced during the Spanish conquest of North and South America. He did a 15 minute teaching demonstration, and I knew that he would be a wonderful addition to our department.
I was right. We have lost a wonderful teacher and colleague.