Today I heard that my friend and teaching colleague, Barbara, passed away yesterday afternoon, after her two relentless battles with cancer. I've been struggling all day to come up with some appropriate words, but I keep self-editing as I search for a better way to convey just how funny, talented, generous, perceptive and determined she was - about so many aspects of Barbara's family life, her career, and her friendships.
Barbara took me - a complete stranger - under her wing when I ended up in a very unique teaching situation, about this time of year in 2002. It certainly made that five-week stint a memorable time, and such a valuable learning experience. It helped to mould me into who I am today.
The annual school shopping trip is coming up again in November, and this year Barbara's seat will be empty. However, I can guarantee that as soon as we start sharing favourite Barbara anecdotes, the bus will be filled with happy memories and much laughter. Which is exactly what Barbara would want.