WHEN TERESA A. MULLIN needed inspiration she'd take a walk over to the Weeks Bridge.
She went there on one cool January evening, as snow softly padded a frozen Charles River. Her breath frosty, her eyes bright, she'd talk about her life, her ideas. She said she liked the cold: It made breathing easier.
From the bridge, she fed hungry ducks with pieces of bread. She favored the small ones, tossing pieces in their direction. From that vantage point, she could also see her main nemesis as a reporter--the Harvard Business School.
Even though Terri's first beat at The Crimson was the well-funded school not well known for talking to the press, she got stories. She often clashed with the school over stories she wrote about Barbara Bund Jackson's sex discrimination suit against the august institution.
At The Crimson, the beats reporters take often say something about their personalities. The B-School is one of the toughest: It has huge amounts of money; it doesn't need any press; no one there-students included--likes to talk. Yet Terri scraped, fought, and battled, just like she did all her life against a foe she finally could not defeat--cystic fibrosis.
The genetic disease that saps the power of the heart and lungs shaped, defined Terri's life. Still, she reacted violently to anyone who tried to single her out because of her affliction. She condemned a society which she saw as biased against people with serious health problems. She questioned the large foundations and the financial institutions through which all funding for fighting diseases is channeled.
TERRI HAD GREAT PLANS. There were newspaper stories to be written and a long list of books to be started after her first, about her own life, was completed. she planned to write non-fiction about women in the financial world; the flaws of the non-profit foundations; a novel about a hate group on a rural college campus; science fiction stories depicting a world that segregated minorities, women, gays, and people with serious illnesses.
So much to write. So little time.
The character of the last months of Terri's life epitomized much of her existence. Terri outlived many of the friends and soulmates she met in hospitals across the country. She challenged doctors' advice when she thought it faulty and sought out new methods of controlling her disease.
Last fall, she moved to England in hopes of obtaining a heart-lung transplant at one of the world's best clinics. She spent the year searching for a job in journalism and hoping to be placed on the exclusive list of those eligible to receive the vital and dangerous operation.
Near the time her work visa ran out, Terri became ill, ill enough to earn consideration for the procedure she most wanted. But it was too late.
She died yesterday morning at the Royal Brompton Hospital in London, where she had been receiving treatment for three-and-a-half weeks.
Terri Mullin, we will miss you. We will miss your laughter and your toughness. We hope that you are in a better place now, a place where you don't have to worry about breathing or coughing or anything. Your too-short life will stand as an inspiration to us all.