Growing up, there was a teacher named Mrs. DePinho who taught me how to weave using a clementine box during arts and crafts class. She was a patient and kind person and even though I had sticky fingers from all the junk food I’d be eating at recess, she found it added ‘character’ to my skill. She was always encouraging me to dive into my imagination and create whatever I could think of. I did just that and I always showed her what I was creating, whether it was an utterly ridiculous piece of work or just whatever a nine year-old could create at that age. Then one day we had a supply teacher instead of Mrs. DePinho who we suddenly observed was missing for a few weeks. Her absence was later announced by faculty notifying us that she had been sick and wouldn’t be returning to school which was heartbreaking to me because I wanted to show her the crochet piece I had made for my mother and basically, get her approval if it looked good.
Weeks had gone by, even months and still no sign of Mrs. DePinho. As a child, we don’t notice the passage of time or put any meaning to someone’s absence because it doesn’t matter in our world. We have no worries and just care to play on the swings, under the warm sun. However, soon enough, time suddenly came to a standstill and our school held an assembly to announce that they had lost a member of their staff and that Mrs. DePinho had died. She was suffering from breast cancer and though I did not know the exact details then, I remember the word “cancer” because after class, our teacher was talking to us about life and death and how cancer plays a part in it sometimes. I remember I cried a bit but was more confused about why something so terrible was even a part of our lives. Why was cancer even existent? What is its purpose? Why didn’t doctors just get it out?