One night senior year, in the fall of 1970, he asked maybe half a dozen students to come to his house. We didn’t know what it was about but he wanted to talk about having been diagnosed with a potentially fatal illness. This was another time you took your shoes off. He probably still had the cookies and, you know, the tea. But it was a reminder that we were his family and he had just been diagnosed with this disease and he wanted to talk about what it meant to be old, what it meant to be sick, what it meant to face the prospect of dying. He wanted to talk it out. It was a shocking thing, not what we expected.

Well, I never felt young, I never felt immortal. I was not a believer that you can numb yourself from that. But what I remember about this was that by the end of this evening he wound up reassuring us. He reassured us. Because we felt this much harder than him. So he played the role of reassuring us. “It’s difficult to be young,” that’s what he said. And you realized then that playing that role was clearly part of what he needed to do in the world.