Closing the Teach For America Blogging Gap
Mar 27 2012

Love, life, death(from the perspective of a scientist)

Yes, I’ve been doing work in math education. And no, I don’t think that is what I’ll write about. The questions that have plagued me lately are all about Ioana and her life and death. I’m used to having theories, explanations, answers, proofs. Death, to a scientist, seems like such an unanswerable mystery. It’s like wondering what happened before the Big Bang or inside of a black hole.

And now I spend time talking to a PhD scientist about Ioana’s death. Is her energy still around? Of course it is in some sense. The testimonies at her funeral indicate that hundreds of people have been inspired by her to hike the canyon, study harder, love more deeply and jump at all of life’s opportunities. When we wake up early to run, drive 200 miles to see something beautiful, do something special for a loved one, or pour ourselves into solving a problem we have a piece of Ioana energy with us.

But that is easy to demonstrate-just look at the facebook posts her death has inspired. The shock and grief Ioana’s loved ones are experiencing doesn’t make her death any less inspirational to thousands of people around the world who have read her story.

I’m trying to learn from it. Where should I put my energy in life? Which of my friends should I value more? I look at old text messages from Ioana and feel badly about every time I wrote “I’d love to, but I have to do my homework.” The thing is, I did have homework to do, that I care about. I can’t act as if all my friends might die tomorrow. It’s so hard to live as if you’ll die young and to plan for a future at the same time. I try to enjoy the moments-to really pay attention to my boyfriends smile, to say thank you to the people I appreciate every time they do something nice to me.

Usually, I’m not too concerned about the existence of fate or afterlife. I can’t prove it either way so why try? But now I wonder if Ioana can see what we write about her. Will she know if I go bike riding with her sister or visit her husband every week? I feel so strongly that even though we’d stopped hanging out as much in the last six months that she will maybe know that my place in her life now is to support Andrew and Iulia.

I went hiking in Slickhorn Canyon and wondered if Ioana could meet all of the Native American’s who spent their lives on cliff ledges in the canyons she loved. I know it’s crazy to wonder what she is doing now but there are so many strange dreams.

While backpacking I dreamed that Ioana knew she was going to die and was at peace with this. She was still so in love with Andrew. I wanted to talk to her so badly to ask her what to do with Andrew and how he could find happiness again. As soon as I got close to her all I see is a scene from Moulin Rouge in which Christian proclaims his love to Satine. The movie is about someone who is madly in love and dies young-her lover writes the story of their love in her memory. My brain has such a strange way of processing-I know Andrew is thinking about writing about Ioana. And I assume this is all me just processing her loss in my sleep, but I’m struggling to make sense of everything and looking for clues in the most unscientific of places. Maybe Andrew is meant to see these lyrics as he wonders about writing about Ioana:

“I hope you don’t mind, I hope you don’t mind
That I put down in words
How wonderful life is, now that you’re in the world”

2 Responses

  1. Iulia

    This is so beautiful Cammie!:) you are a great writer!

  2. Ms. Math

    Thanks Iulia! You are an amazing person and Ioana was so lucky to have such a great sister :)

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Learning more about life than math…

Las Vegas Valley
High School

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