My freshman year, the man who inspired me to write died.
When I met with a professor today to talk about an essay, we talked about him.
He poked fun at his freshman class and how brain-dead they seem to be. I said I was the same way as a freshman, that it just took one person sitting me down and telling me, “No matter what your paying job is, you’re a writer,” for me to figure it out.
His response? Wow. What a nice story to have.
My reaction? Tears welling up, then forcefully swallowing all my emotions so I don’t start sobbing about a man who’s been dead for nearly three years, a man I barely knew — think Harry and Dumbledore’s relationship, except shorter.
We talked about him, what a good person he was, how his wife is wonderful and plays in a band in town.
They were good friends. His office was a few doors down. I couldn’t look to see who occupies it now; that would make reality too real. I like the idea of running into him on campus still. Sometimes I even think I do see him, on rainy days, him wearing his bright poncho.
When I went to his wake, his wife shook my hand and said, “I hope he brings inspiration to you some day.”
He’s never been on my mind more.