Bill and I met at Georgetown almost 25 years ago. I don’t remember exactly when or how we met, but my group of girls and I were freshmen and he was a sophomore, and he was usually around and he was part of us. Back then, he and I had not so much a love/hate relationship as a love/man, you annoy me more than anyone has ever annoyed me relationship. Well, at least on my part. Sometimes he provoked me on purpose, like a third-grader pulling my pigtails one too many times. Most of the time, I was too immature and childish to grasp his odd intensity, and I often pushed him away.
We saw each other on and off over the next few years, usually at the wedding of a friend. At one of these weddings, he told our group of girls that he had found another girl, one he wanted to marry. By now, I finally got what it was about Bill. It wasn’t just his singular intelligence or charisma, it was that he had the ability to see you, to see what was most valuable about you, or maybe even more important, to see what you valued most in yourself, and to let you know that he valued it too, that he valued your very you-ness.
After that, I hoped we could be real friends, without our old push-pull. And we saw each other a couple times when I passed through town, and I emailed. But, he was busy with work and life and marriage, and when my emails went unanswered, I let it go.
About five years ago, we crossed into each others’ spheres one more time, and had a wonderful time together over the summer of 2001. And he was kind and warm and honest with me, like always. By this time, I know he knew that he was oh-so-close to my heart. I hope he knew that he always had been. But again, life happened, and this time I was the one who had to pull away.
And so, we bounced together and then apart over so many years. For us, that’s just the way it was, and I grieve that it won’t happen one more time. But, oh! How lucky I was, how lucky we all were, to have been seen by Bill.
Anne Marie Yale (formerly Rice)