Marshall Berman, a professor at City College within the City University of New York (CUNY) system, was never my professor but he was my husband’s.
Why am I writing about his death if he wasn’t my teacher?
While Adam was in his class we lost our first pregnancy. I was just over 12 weeks pregnant and ecstatic would be an understatement for how I felt. I had just declared joyous to the whole entire world I was pregnant as I had just edged out of the first trimester. And then, at the beginning of my 13th week of pregnancy, as I went to one of my last classes at Teachers College, I started spotting. Not good, I thought. No–it wasn’t.
What followed was a torrid week of me in agonizing physical and emotional pain as I passed three months of baby-building from my body. This was followed by three solid months of a deep depression that rocked me to my core (Strange, I never equated the length of my depression before to the length of my pregnancy…this is why writing is good for you–it helps you make these connections). Adam was at a loss on what to do with me. I am a very happy, upbeat, smiley, perky person and that part of me seemed gone. I felt hollow and disengaged. I was in a dark, dark place.
Adam was in an Advanced Masters in Architecture program up at City College and Marshall Berman was his professor–a big wig, well-published, much respected academic with a kind, kind soul. Adam had to miss class to take care of me and he told Professor Berman why. This man had nothing but compassion for Adam. He sent his love via Adam back to me–a woman he had never met. He had lost a child, and he truly grieved for us. He told Adam to take care of me and himself. Adam came home deeply moved.
That is how I knew of Marshall Berman. This is how I will remember him.
I am a very proud employee of CUNY. This week–with the loss of Jean Anyon of CUNY’s Graduate Center and Marshall Berman of City College–is a sad week for CUNY. But my take away from Marshall Berman is that compassion is something we need to share with our students. One small act of compassion can truly transcend time and space.
[To read more about Marshall Berman, you can start here.]