I've always written things.
But there is definitely a day, a moment, an action when I became a writer.
A particular day that I remember when I began to become who I would be.
It was April 2000.
I'd finished my PhD and was teaching college while managing a coffeeshop. I thought I was becoming an artist, a bohemian, something new.
That month I had surgery for girl stuff, and cancelled class for two days.
The day after the surgery I was at home, reading the paper. Bored.
Until I saw a picture of one of my most favorite students, Marvin Scott.
It was his obituary. I was shocked. Devastated.
I cried for hours.
Then suddenly the tears stopped, I got up and sat in front of the computer and wrote him a letter.
It was a short letter - about a page - but I poured out my shock and sadness, then told him I felt so lucky to have been part of his journey. I told him that he inspired me, and that I would miss him.
When I was done writing the letter, I emailed it to the newspaper.
I have no idea why I did that. I wasn't in my right mind. But I did it anyway.
The next day they published it.
Then I wrote Marvin's family a long letter, describing how he scratched out all his answers on essay exams, rewriting them over and over. How he was never late, always there, and took time after class to shyly ask really important questions.
I wrote about our last conversation.
It was on the way to his car after class one day, and we talked about the Korean War.
Marvin was afraid he just didn't understand it, so I told him a few stories and assured him that if he'd just write down what he understood, I could review it and clarify it for him.
He was wearing a striped polo shirt, and we walked slowly that day.
I don't think I hugged him goodbye, but I wish I had.
Since then, I haven't stopped writing.
Thank you, Marvin.
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