“She has been a beacon of hope for so many people… It’s because she’s so utterly human and so utterly graceful.’’
My students and I looked at the dedication pages of the books we’re reading, and agreed that we usually don’t bother to notice them.
Sharing the dedications with each other, we found two commonalities:
- Whether clear or cryptic, simple or elaborate, earnest or irreverent, each dedication was heartfelt.
- We didn’t know any of the dedicatees.
The dedication to one of the students’ favorite books reads:
To Esther Earl.
Many of my students have read this book, and most have seen the movie, but none knew who Esther Earl was. So we read her Boston Globe obituary. Esther’s sixteen years teach us that, as John Green says, “a short life can also be a good and rich life.”
Vocabulary we learned from the obituary includes demeanor, muse, vibrant, terminal, domain, precocious, and beacon. I asked each student to pick one and use it in a sentence Esther would declare awesome. Here’s my favorite (yes, it’s two sentences, but neither is it unawesome):
Yesterday I had a vibrant taco. It grew legs and walked out of my hands.