Catherine was a member of an Expository Writing course I taught at the

University at Albany in the spring of 2004, the semester when my beloved wife

lay gravely ill from pancreatic cancer. In early March, when the doctors told us

Barbara was close to death, I informed my students about her condition. The

news stunned everyone, for I had not shared this information with them earlier

in the semester. Nor could they have known from my demeanor-I am usually

playful and exuberant in the classroom-that Barbara was dying. She did not

want to read the eulogy-she said it would make her too sad-but she allowed

me to read it to the class. Before beginning, I announced that it would take me

about 20 minutes to read the eulogy and that class would end when I finished.

Anyone who wished to leave early, I added, could do so. Finally, in a quiet,

measured voice, I began the reading. I struggled to maintain my composure, and

when I finished, everyone filed slowly out of the room, shaken by my words.