My friend and Merrimack College colleague, Kevin Salemme, died last week after battling an illness for not quite a year. Some have aptly called Kevin the Mayor of Merrimack. Whereas many folks at colleges and universities remain siloed, Kevin nurtured a community unbounded by field of study, office building, age, or interests. Our Media Center, which supports the entire College, has been renamed The Kevin Salemme Media Center.
Losing Kevin has led so many of us to reflect on his impact. At times, death can prompt the donning of rose-colored glasses about someone’s character and legacy. Sure, you could be late going to class or heading home because you got stuck in a “Kev Talk.” But, truthfully, Kevin was all the wonderful things people say he was.
Through all the written and spoken tributes, Kevin Salemme’s legacy takes a clear shape. Can you picture one person who made time to listen to, support, and truly value the people in his life? Can you picture a photographer whose lens reassembled space and time into a compelling new version of reality? Can you picture a teacher who nurtured creativity in others with his enduring passion for the arts? Can you picture a man who modeled for others how to embrace challenges, see new perspectives, and imbibe the many joys that life has to offer?
I started a gratitude journal this year as a way of coping with stress and seeing more of the good in life. The very first entry in my journal is that my friend’s treatment was working, staving off the illness. In the summer and early fall, the entries about Kevin mention some group lunches. After a time, the savoring of brief visits was all I had. What I wouldn’t give now to be late to class or late to a meeting because of a Kev Talk.
Kevin’s Artist Statement says that “Photography is the only time machine ever invented: it seizes light and holds on to it.” In gratitude, we forever hold onto Kevin’s light.