By: Travis Naughton

Just before the 2020-2021 school year kicked off last September, I received a notification from Kelly Educational Staffing alerting me that my subbing services had been requested by my friend and coworker Misti Post. When I saw that Misti would need coverage for the first two weeks of the school year, I immediately became concerned. I knew that Misti, a special education paraprofessional at the Primary School, would never willingly miss the beginning of a new school year if she could help it. “Hey Misti!” I wrote in a text message, “I just saw that you requested me to sub for you to start the year. When I realized you needed me for two weeks, I started to worry about you. I hope everything is okay.” Misti said that she had been having some health issues but was supposedly on the mend. Her doctor advised against her returning to work until October, which made Misti sad because she loved her job, but she understood that she needed time to rest and heal. I subbed for her as often as I could during the first month of school, and when I began covering a long-term subbing assignment in kindergarten in October, Misti was still not well enough to return to work. I became increasingly worried that something was very wrong with my friend. On November 2, the primary school staff received an email informing us that Misti had been diagnosed with stage 4 cancer. Less than six months later, our friend and colleague was gone. Misti Post, a loving wife, mother, daughter, and friend passed away last Tuesday at University Hospital. She was only 47 years old. When Bethany told me the news, I burst into tears. I was shocked and heartbroken. Six months from diagnosis to death. Though Misti and I weren’t the kind of friends who spent time together outside of work, we were friends just the same. We had many conversations at school about all sorts of topics, including our children, and I can tell you that no one loved being a mother as much as Misti did. She was so proud of all three of her kids. There were several occasions when our talks resulted in tears being shed—tears of joy and tears of sorrow. I remember how devastated she was when her father died a couple of years ago. I shared my experience about losing my mother, and Misti and I wept together. When I shared the story of adopting my daughter Tiana, Misti and I cried then, too. Misti had many gifts in addition to being a wonderful listener. She was smart as a whip. She could light up a room with her laugh. She could bring comfort to those who were in pain. And she loved with every fiber of her being. I confided to a friend the other day that I should have reached out to Misti more often in recent months. My friend said, “She knew you loved her. You’re great at letting people know that.” I hoped that was the case, and when I re-read my texts to Misti a few minutes later, I discovered that I did not let those important words go unspoken. “Never forget that you are loved by all who know you,” I wrote to Misti, shortly after learning of her diagnosis. In last week’s column, I wrote about my mother-in-law’s recovery from a serious stroke. You may recall that because the clot that caused the stroke was still in her brain, Glee worried that she has a ticking time bomb in her head. I wrote that we should all live our lives as if we have ticking time bombs in our heads. If we lived each day as if it could be our last, then certainly we would relish every moment we get to spend with those we love. I guarantee you that in the last six months, Misti savored every last second that she was able to spend with her family. Although they are all reeling right now, I know Misti’s husband and children are grateful for the time they had together. And I’m sure they would agree that there is nothing—I mean nothing—more important in this world than spending quality time with the people you love. Thank you for being my friend, Misti. And thank you for giving so much to your family, your coworkers, your students, and your community. The world is a little darker today than it was before you left us, but because of the love you spread over the course of your 47 years, the world is a far brighter place than it would have been otherwise. Goodbye, sweet friend. I love you.