I found out over Twitter yesterday that one of my journalism instructors, Cynthia Brouse, died after battling breast cancer for years.
I wasn't sure how to feel. Sadness, of course, but mostly I was in shock. For nearly a year, there has been a letter addressed to Cynthia Brouse, sitting in the drafts folder of my email account. In it, I try to articulate how grateful I was for that one day in 3rd year university when she took me out into the hallway before her copy editing and fact checking class to tell me that she saw I had leadership potential for the Ryerson Review of Journalism, the major magazine I could create with my peers the following year if I stayed within the magazine stream.
I struggled enormously with that decision, and in the end, largely because Cynthia had said out loud to me what I was feeling, I chose the RRJ and 4th year turned out to be not only one of the best learning experiences I had to date, but I formed important bonds and relationships with people I don't think I would have otherwise.
I learned a long time ago that if you have something good to say about a person, you should probably say it in that moment, no matter how silly it may seem or how embarrassed you may feel. Last summer, it dawned on me suddenly if it weren't for those five minutes Cynthia took with me, the remainder of my university career may have turned out very differently—and my love for magazines may not have been as fostered as it was if I had not immersed myself in the Ryerson Review. So I sat down to write Cynthia a thank-you email, knowing she was a religious email checker and responder.
But for whatever reason, I never felt the words were right. I couldn't finish writing what I started. Other things came up in my life, and I thought Cynthia would be there. I would finish it eventually and she'd know just how significant she was in my magazine journalism education. Instead, I'm staring at a Tweet, reading the words "RIP Cynthia Brouse," knowing there is a thank-you letter sitting in my email account that will never be sent and will be there forever, incomplete.