In 1992, as we hugged and sobbed, we made a promise. Graduation wasn’t goodbye; we decided it’d be the bridge to our next chapter. We agreed that one day we’d return to our beloved Hoosier home where the three of us met. We finally did.
Dana flew from New Jersey. Robyn and I traveled together from Florida. Our shrieks echoed throughout the Indianapolis airport as we squeezed each other in a huddle. Though it was difficult to coordinate this trip and leave our little ones, we made it happen!
As we drove into Bloomington, the Sample Gates greeted us, and I started to sing the fight song. We drove straight to the IU Memorial Union. We all gasped simultaneously as we realized how much had changed—us—yet how much had remained the same. We had four years of unforgettable memories within the towering, limestone building.
Ernie Pyle Hall, which is where Dana and I met, was right next door to the Union. I felt an intense tug like a magnet drawn to metal. We appreciated that Robyn agreed to go there first.
For years I’d dreamed about seeing Dave Adams again. I wanted to hug him tightly. I wanted to look into his inquisitive eyes and thank him for the impact he made on my life.
I walked into the newsroom, the Indiana Daily Student (IDS), my jaw nearly dislocated. My beloved IDS, an incubator that nurtured my passion for writing and editing, had changed drastically and visibly. I walked around talking to the few students who peppered the newsroom. They looked at me quizzically when I inquired about layouts and proofs.
It is official. I am old. Cynical and curious eyes peered at me as if I’d just arrived on a UFO.
“Where is Dave? I have waited years to see him again!” I asked. A few students seemed suddenly solemn.
“You didn’t know? He’s no longer here.” My heart dove into my ankles. I assumed the novice reporter meant Dave had retired. “He passed away. Come with me.”
The gentle young man took me over to an area near Dave’s office. He pointed to an oak desk. I still didn’t process what the student was attempting to share.
And then I saw it. No. I must be hallucinating. The plaque on the desk read, “In MEMORY of DAVE ADAMS.”
I cannot recall what happened next. I do remember running over to Dana. And even as I write this, tears tell the story of a man who changed my life. Dave taught us. Dave supported us. Dave touched us.
The art museum, the Villas where I’d lived, Read Hall dormitory, and Kirkwood Avenue awaited us. But in the weeks leading up to our journey back in time consistently included a reunion with Dave. And he not only left the newsroom; Dave had left the planet.
This is the first blog I am publishing about another soul. I intentionally chose to write about Dave Adams, one of the many people who has made a forever impact on my life.
Dave believed in me, and so many others, when I didn’t believe in myself. He eagerly and enthusiastically wrote a recommendation letter when I applied to graduate school. And he trusted me at 19 years old to divulge a lifetime secret: Dave told me and a few other seniors that he loved men.
He married a woman and had two children. During the middle of his life, he chose to finally live his truth. This was (and sadly may still be) challenging, especially when existing in a small United States town. I still wish he’d come out earlier. I wish Dave were a teenager now, when being gay/lesbian/bisexual/transgender is more accepted and open. I guess that wasn’t his path.
While Bloomington was relatively liberal, the rest of Indiana was not. I was a kid from Miami, and a passionate, open-minded, accepting woman. Although my IU has modernized, I am and will always be who I was as a teen.
I am grateful that Dave felt comfortable enough to speak and emote. His passion motivated and inspired me. Dave fiercely defended the First Amendment and his students’ rights, too. And we both shared a love of music, and especially “The Wizard Of Oz.”
Dave would want me to quote him directly. And use AP style, of course. I wish he were here. He is not. Dave drowned on June 2, 2007 at the painfully young age of 59 years old. I was born the same day he exited our world.
Today isn’t about misery or melancholy. It is about honoring a man who impacted me immeasurably. Dave didn’t just touch my soul now—he will forever. I know you’re somewhere over the rainbow, Dave. And as you knew, EVERY soul has a story. Here is yours.