This time, four years ago, I was crying.

I don’t have much to say, not because for lack of thoughts or emotions…but because at the heart of it, I miss him less as a public figure and more as a mentor and friend.

There’s more than a little pride that goes on in Minnesota politics in identifying oneself as close to the Wellstone legacy, and such, so I’ll explain for just briefly. At the time that I was first hospitalized on account of severe panic attacks, I was just closing my time working for Wellstone’s Senate Office in Minnesota.

My supervisor visited me in the hospital, an act of simple and even basic humanity that stunned me because of all the ways in which the mental health ward was presented as foreboding, scary, and alien.

The day I returned home, I got a call from Paul, wishing me well and hoping for my continued recovery.

I’ve scheduled such calls. I’ve written the letters that make it sound like Paul really cared about you. I’ve done all the grunt work that makes such moments of concern and connection possible. And I’m not jaded about it. He meant it all, and encouraged us to mean it too.

Shortly after I finished working with the campaign to go back to school, I was sent a copy of The Conscience of a Liberal. Paul had signed it with a subtle jab at my choice of a schools, a rival to Carlton where he’d taught and often spoke of returning to “retire.” With well wishes he reminded me to keep in touch.

I still do.