One of my outstanding, vivacious, kind, and promising graduate students was killed in a car accident on Wednesday as she was traveling to visit friends for the Thanksgiving holiday.
It's hard to wrap my mind around it. One moment she is very much there, with her energy and presence filling a room, and the next moment she is completely and forever absent.
I am deeply saddened by her loss. I'm close to all my grad students, and I also considered her to be a friend. Also, being a graduate student's advisor is a sort of unique relationship and a little bit like being a parent; you invest a lot of time preparing them for a bright future. When that future evaporates in a split second, you feel a loss that is not only personal and professional but also, you feel a void that will exist in society for all the advances that person would have made, but won't. In addition, I know she looked forward to marrying and having children some day, and she would have been an excellent partner and mother.
When I was a child, my younger sister and my younger brother passed away, one suddenly and one after a long illness. My grief for them was for the future that might have been. My grief now is slightly different, because I feel like I'm grieving the future that would have been and now will not.
2 hours ago