When I first began teaching, I was youngish (26), and there was a natural affinity with my students who, for the most part, were only a few years younger than I. There was even, of course, a small 'posse' with whom I became quite close. They were my friends as well as my students, and we were good at keeping those roles delineated.
There were five in this late 1970s posse, most of whom I hadn't seen in a while. Then a few years ago I began hearing from one in that group. He was returning to the campus for homecoming and contacted me with that news. He asked if I had seen or heard from any of the others. I indicated I had not, described when I had last had contact, and said I would see what I could find out.
First, I learned that one in that posse, one to whom I had rented part of my home and who had, in fact, been my best man, had passed away unexpected a few years earlier at the age of 51. Although he lived only 70 miles from here, we had not had contact in decades. My occasional Christmas cards went unanswered.
Then I found that another had also died. She was 49 and left a husband and two daughters. Last week I learned that a third in that posse of five had died as well - this time after a long illness, but still only 59.
The two that remain from those early days are a presence in my life. Thank goodness. One teaches as an adjunct for us, and I see him all the time. The other is the author of that wonderful quote I shared in Feeling Passionate. He continues to call every so often.
I don't mean to share a tale of woe; what I want to share is that life is short. If there are those who have been important to you at some point in your life, find them - before it's too late. I wish I had. There were things of importance to say, and I don't like the feeling that surfaces from wishing 'if only I had ... '