O Captain! My Captain! our fearful trip is done;
The ship has weather'd every rack, the prize we sought is won;*
There aren’t words. Which is strange, because for two years in Mr Y's high school English class there were nothing but words. From his example, I learned the power of language. My relationship to Mr Y transcended graduation through occasional visits, handwritten letters, and conversations over meals. His enthusiasm, attention and generosity never wavered. Any ability I possess to write, express, and now teach, was shaped by him. Achieving greater sustainability requires powerful teachers capable of fostering leaders. Mr Y assaulted us everyday with his unique passion and intelligence, providing more than was expected, certainly more than was deserved. He taught me what it meant to be a citizen, not of a country or place, but of emotion and ideas. His classroom possessed a world inexplicably bigger than the confined community I inhabited. That universe, inflected by language, was struck silent by his death last week. O Captain, My Captain...the tide has unexpectedly rushed out, the air evaporated, all potent sound silenced. I know from you that it will return, more powerful, nurturing, and inspiring than ever before. But for now, I stand on the shore, the magic broken, the folio closed, the actors silenced, mourning the loss.
*From O Captain! My Captain! by Walt Whitman (1865)