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Love at Duke

Y ou did not come here to find love. But rest assured—it will find you. Do not be surprised when it appears at uncommon hours or in uncommon forms. Friendship, after all, is the truest sort of love. And do not be surprised if that person is unimaginably different from you. It may be someone you meet late one Saturday night by the sushi bar at George’s or someone you meet on a Wednesday afternoon over steaming beakers in your chemistry lab. If you are a scholar, that person may be an athlete. If you are an athlete, that person may be a scholar. It may be your neighbor.

Or—as it was in my case—he may have been all three.

Tall and muscular with an unruly mass of long, dark hair, Micah Harris looked fierce. When we first met on our hall in Blackwell, I thought my new neighbor resembled a linebacker, which—as it turns out—was exactly right. I expected a year of being woken up at all hours of the night with revelry and other kinds of loud behavior of which I suspected Division I football players capable.

What I did not expect was a neighbor who would regularly bring over pizza and tea, shout greetings across the West Campus quad and spontaneously give bear hugs and piggyback rides. Nor did I expect a neighbor who, during class, would contribute insightfully on philosophers ranging from Thomas Aquinas to Thomas Kuhn or someone who would go out of his way to be friendly, getting to know everyone on our hall and spending time with us on weekends.

I will never forget when he took Krupal—a studious Indian math and econ double major—out to a football party and spent the entire night gleefully introducing him to girls. Micah was always doing things like that. Nor will I forget our last hug this summer, the feeling of his arms squeezing, the sight of the floor getting farther away, the bottles on the walls, the neon lights, the smoky air, the roughness of his palm and mischief in his eyes as we said goodbye and promised to call.

Today I write with my tears and the tears of the countless people who knew and loved Micah. He was an irreplaceable treasure, and his death is an irreparable tragedy. It will be impossible to find another like him with his spectacular thoughtfulness, intelligence and athleticism.

An embodiment of the Olympic ideal, Micah was exceptional in mind, body and spirit, living proof that people are our greatest resource and that very different individuals can love one another. But he was also an athlete and a competitor who inspired us by relentlessly fighting to give his all, always.

Watching him play was to see an artist painting with blood and grass, to see someone who understood—as some students here do not—that our competitors allow us to be our best, to achieve the most we are capable of achieving, and are not our enemies.

He was an illustration of the Latin words that were combined to form the word competition, which mean, “to strive together.” Micah sought to not only to better his own life, but also to better the lives of everyone around him. He recognized the interconnectedness of humankind and the mutual nature of our quest on earth.

All of us strive to live and love. We strive to be happy and—like Micah—to make the world a more decent place for everyone. For our time here on earth, our brief hour of consciousness with darkness at our front and at our backs, we have each other and—in our shared fate and aspirations—are one.

So as you go home today, I ask you to remember. Stop a door before your own and knock. Perhaps Micah will be there to welcome you.

 

Matt Gillum is a Trinity senior.

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