Thursday, December 31, 2015

In Loving Memory of Gisela Gil Egui, Colleague, Friend, Mentor, Neighbor. In Shock, As Are We All

Dear Gisela,

I'm going to write this post as a letter. I'm not sure how else to process the news we received today that you and your husband were killed in an automobile accident in Miami. Father Von Arx sent out an email alert late last night about the tragic car accident and I was working on my yearlong reflection when it came.

I was shocked. I still am. It is difficult for me to process.

Your office was next to CWP-Fairfield's office and for the last four years, I've enjoyed your humor, your companionship, your friendliness and your support. I am remembering the days when you'd stop by to see what Ellen and I were laughing at, wanting to laugh, too. Before that, you always stopped in to check on the tomfoolery of what Lois was up to. In all cases, you loved laughing in the CWP-Fairfield office, and often came by to remind yourself that in the greater picture, laughter and smiles mattered most.

I remember you coming to me asking if I'd help you find a way to use your brilliance in service to a local school. You wanted your communication students to go beyond traditional academia and into service learning that was beneficial to them and the community. We met at Bassick High School and together we walked through the halls where you spoke Spanish to the students and offered your vision to the administrators and teachers. We made a connection, but you wanted even more.

In the hallways of Donnarumma, you and I talked about a summer institute for Spanish-speaking immigrant youth and your desire to teach a two-week program similar to Ubuntu Academy. You were full of energy, in love with life, and an all-around fabulous human being.

Every time I saw you, you'd see me and say, "Thank you for your service." Someone nominated me for the Salary Committee and I took on the responsibility knowing that there was little I could do, but it was a role that someone had to serve. You filled me in on your dreams, your love of teaching, and your non-stop writing initiatives. You constantly stated you wished we could find a way to collaborate. I knew we'd find a way, but in the short-run, I simply wanted your friendship and support. As junior faculty, I needed it.

There are no words to express the impact this news had on me yesterday. The loss of your life, the loss of your mother and brother, and the loss of your husband is tremendous. It is simply incomprehensible. As much as I am grieving, I can only imagine what others are going through - you had a tremendous impact on all who knew you. When I was listing out the first people I wanted to see returning from sabbatical after the new year, you were at the top of the list. You offered me a great "Welcome" to Fairfield and have always checked in with me, asking several questions about CWP. I can't imagine the hallway without you.

You were taken too soon.

You will be hearing from me. I will be looking up to the Great Whatever and asking for your help. In the meantime, I am looking to my colleagues and our friends to see how best to help Fairfield University overcome this unbelievable reality. It brings incredible sadness, but I am feeling your warmth and instantly wanting to do better.

You are loved and I promise to do my best in your memory.

Rest in peace, dear friend. The news is one of those events that alters a life forever.
Thank you for living an incredible, admirable, and beautiful life. You remain an inspiration.

Your colleague (and Donnarumma floor-mate),


1 comment:

  1. A lovely tribute to an amazing person. Thank you.