In the process of writing an article that tries to convey who Jim Miller was, I felt sad that I could never know this man.
I don’t presume that I know Miller after all the interviews, or even that my article comprehensively represents who Miller was. Every individual has vast amounts of interests and nuances in his or her personality, but I hope that my article can honor this special person’s memory.
As I gathered interviews, it became apparent that Miller was someone who tried hard to maintain relationships with the people he encountered. He made students feel cared for.
While I wrote the article I realized how wonderful it would be if every professor strove to build relationships with their students and took the time to inquire into the lives of the people they see every day. And conversely, it would be great if we students all went out of our way to get to know the people around us.
I think Andy Ammons, biology professor, said it best in his interview with me: “Losing Jim makes you appreciate all the relationships you have. I think more about not taking those things for granted. I should have gone to his office more instead of thinking there’s time to develop a relationship.”
Ammons also mentioned the solidarity that the biology department is showing right now. Faculty and students have sat together and reflected on Miller’s life, and Ammons noted that just as faculty ask students how they’re doing, the students ask the faculty how they’re coping. As a gesture of care, biology students cooked casseroles for their professors Tuesday night.
If there is anything we can learn from this heart-wrenching experience, it is that in basic acts of love, like making a casserole, presenting someone with a Diet Coke in the middle of a bad day or just acknowledging a person’s presence, you make a lasting mark on a person’s life and they will not forget you for it.