By: Natalia Beiser
Dear Mrs. Martin:
I was insecure when entering your College Prep English class in the year of 1989. I worked really hard and earned an “A” each quarter. You fostered my love of writing, one that I never had nurtured.
We had a huge research paper due the final quarter, the one where I analyzed Anne Frank’s work. During that time, I became angry, argumentative, and eventually manic.
While I was admitted for a twenty-two day psychiatric hospital stay, you expressed in a letter to my family that you were afraid that the pressure that I was putting on myself to write the perfect paper caused the mania. My family did not blame you. There were many triggers that led to my first full blown manic episode.
After graduation, you took me under your wing and invited me to escort you to the local newspaper where you published a weekly special interest column, even though I was obviously highly medicated. You introduced me to your editor and colleagues and showed me the printing press. After awhile, you asked me to start calling you by your first name if I wanted to, since we were friends. I never felt comfortable doing that, but was honored that you called me your friend.
You helped me believe that my life could be meaningful, even when most people had lost hope in my future. You spent time with me when those around me where scared of my situation and had abandoned me. You took me to lunch and introduced me to culture, and wrote me frequent letters when I finally went away to college. You even let me housesit for you once.
You developed cancer and it took a while for you to tell me. You fought the treatments with such grace and never made it seem like a big deal. You even made good jokes about your wig. You were just as personable and kind to me when you were undergoing chemotherapy and made it appear that life was just the same.
Losing you was a huge blow to me. Not only had I lost my advocate, my writing buddy, and my friend. However, even when all hope seemed to be lost after the catastrophic mania, you were right there, cheering me on. My life has been better because of you.
I miss you, friend.
Lydia Holder Martin, 1944 – 2000