Farewell, William, Farewell
On Sunday morning, we lost a beloved friend. William Ward, Waldorf teacher extraordinaire, the author of Traveling Light: Walking The Cancer Path, and a friend and inspiration for many years. He was at home with his wife Andy and their two daughters. William was almost 62, he was 2 weeks younger than I, a fact that never failed to amaze us both. "How could we have come this far? Man, I just don't know." His remarkably funny, sensitive and profound book chronicled his journey after he was diagnosed with a brain tumor.
William was an incredible teacher. He traveled the full path from first grade through eighth grade three times, and he was working on his fourth expedition when he was diagnosed and had to retire. His students loved him. Having him as a teacher was an enormous gift.
William was a wonderful, sympathetic listener, and he had a gift for explaining complex phenomena to groups of people. Whenever something was a problem at the school, which was quite often, he was almost always the first person called. He did not have a special position, and his phone number wasn't in the student handbook. He was called because parents recognized that he would listen and understand, and that he would skillfully and patiently explain to them what he understood. He had a great and generous heart.
In his book, William said goodbye:
As we part, here at the edge of Death Valley, I feel like an old prospector handing over a weather-stained chart. “You take this map, sonny. Where I’m goin’ I won’t be needin’ it no more. But while you’re here on the earthly plane, I want you to know there is water, the water of life, deep down, right here. Yonder, atop Solomon’s knob, is the Mother Lode—pay dirt, pure gold, the sun’s tears. The way up is steep. Just keep putting one foot in front of the other. Up on top you can see forever. Goodbye, God bless and good luck!”Indeed. Goodbye, William, God bless and good luck. And thank you for a great, powerful incarnation.