I received a call a couple of weeks ago from a former student who had taken a number of my classes. When she first came to my class she had advanced cancer. That was two years ago. When she called recently, she told me it had progressed and that her time was limited. We had started an anthology of student work compiled from the classes she had taken and never finished it. She wanted to now. I got together with her this week to do so.

She spoke about her other projects -- two books she is hoping to get published, a current and upcoming art exhibit. She showed me the art project she had completed for one of these, discussing the texture of the paper and various printing costs. She is diligently working on her web site and blog, compiling years of her photography and writing.

She looked lovely in spite of an overall frailness and swelling in her abdomen. Her hair was longer than when I had last seen her (shortly after chemo) and her eyes were crystal-clear blue. They sparkled as she chattered about her busy life.

I wanted to snap her picture to remember the day, but was hesitant to ask. When I returned home I made this sketch and wrote this poem. I sent it to her the next day and told her that I wanted to put it on my blog. "I want to share with people how you inspire me," I said. "Not because of the cancer, but because of your creativity."

She is a person fully engaged in living. She is a creative force.

When I got home I sobbed.

Then I began to create.

In small letters she edits a big life down into words and images encapsulating dreams
on a computer, on a web site, in books, in photographs
sharing with others who she is, where's she's been, that she's here
that we all are
She reminds me to live, to work, to reach, to grow
Even when she is tired, even when a breath is hard
She reaches out and reminds me
Her story is our story and our story is hers