‘Do a random act of kindness’ for Evan Dube, memorial gathering told

Gathered students, staff and faculty fill the College Chapel pews during a memorial service for Evan Dube '15. Photographs by Phyllis Graber Jensen/Bates College.

“We’re here to embrace Evan’s life and memory, and we’re also here to embrace each other as we try to move through this,” Associate Dean of Students James Reese told Bates folks gathered to remember a much-loved, now much-missed student.

“Share what you want to share and be who you want to be about this enormous matter, whenever you want,” Reese told the Bates people who had been closest to Evan Dube ’15, who died May 19 during a Bates Short Term trip to Scotland.

Reese spoke during a noontime memorial gathering on May 24 for Dube. Bates’ goodbye to Dube will be long, but this first remembrance revealed a path toward healing as people who knew him, or wished they had, shared glimpses of a spirit inspirational in its eager openness.

Professor of History Michael Jones, one of the Bates faculty members who led the Shetland Islands trip, remembers Evan Dube '15.

Filling the College Chapel were hundreds of Bates faculty, staff and students, including friends who were by Dube’s side when he slipped from life on a beach on the island of Shetland Mainland.

Organized by the Multifaith Chaplaincy, the memorial wrapped readings, recollections and music in periods of silence that afforded a little time for reflection. “We see silence not as a place where nothing is happening,” explained Associate Multifaith Chaplain Emily Wright-Magoon, “but as a place where a lot is going on, where all of our inner voices are speaking within us, among us.”

Silence is “a really profound way of being together in community” — and more than welcome as a distressed campus sought to make sense of Dube’s passing.

Interim President Nancy Cable shared a message that Evan’s parents, John and Eileen Dube, have posted. “Many of you have asked us, ‘What can we do to help?” the Dubes wrote.

“And our family would like for each of you, for all of you, to do a random act of kindness for someone, anyone . . . a person you’ve just met or someone you don’t know at all. In that way you will honor the memory of who Evan truly was: a gentle soul, a kind heart who loved all, unconditionally.”

Indeed, Evan’s open-heartedness resonated through the Chapel as students, staff and faculty shared impressions and memories. “He wanted to be friends with everyone,” said his friend and classmate John Goodman, who quoted a Latin saying that Dube had posted on his Facebook site: “Alter ipse amicus,” translated as “a friend is another self.”

Olivia Norrmen-Smith '13 and Justin Lipton '12 perform "Blackbird" by John Lennon and Paul McCartney during the service.

One of Dube’s floormates from the 280 College Street residence noted Evan’s willingness to let arguments go and bygones be bygones. “He loved us as a family,” she said, “and we didn’t know each other before we got here.”

A few people, including one of the faculty members who led the Short Term visit to the Shetland Islands, noted Dube’s eager embrace of classical and medieval studies. During the trip, said history professor Michael Jones, he had asked Dube to help transcribe an old handwritten document, and gave him a website on paleography, the study of old handwriting, that might help with the task.

“He gave me, after that, his website on paleography,” Jones said, to appreciative laughter.

As we deal with the pain of losing someone close, part of the struggle is simply trying to find a place for such a loss, a way to understand it that enables us to keep going. Dube was a Buddhist, and one reading from a Buddhist philosopher offered some comfort from that perspective.

Those attending the service find comfort in each other and the opportunity to reflect.

Aung Myint ’14, who comes from Myanmar and leads Buddhist meditation sessions at Bates, read from Contemplation of No-Coming, No-Going by author and teacher Thich Nhat Hanh:

“Birth and death are only doors through which we pass, secret thresholds on our journey. Birth and death are a game of hide and seek. So love with me, hold my hand. Let us say goodbye, say goodbye to meet again soon. We meet today, we will meet again tomorrow, we will meet at the source of every moment.”

Another kind of comfort, harder but maybe more cathartic, came from Evan Dube himself. Wright-Magoon and Multifaith Chaplain Bill Blaine-Wallace read from a few Twitter posts that he had made in November and December. In one, the Bates first-year quoted A.A. Milne, from Winnie-the-Pooh:

“How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.”