Bruce Kent died on July 4, 2019. Amy texted me to let me know on Saturday, while I was at American Mensa’s Annual Gathering, which was entirely appropriate.
Bruce was one of my best friends in Mensa. We met in 1990, and for more than a year, he visited my house at least once a week: for Greater New York Mensa’s Writers’ SIG, for our bi-monthly poker games, our monthly board meetings, occasional random parties… And when we weren’t getting together at home, it would be at the monthly speaker meetings, or the meetings of the Colley Cibber SIG at bars in Manhattan (organized by Ed Pell), and other events. Originally, we bonded over our publishing careers, but that was just the ice-breaker.
At the time, I was the editor of GNYM’s monthly newsletter, Mphasis. In 1992, I took office as President of GNYM, and Bruce succeeded me as editor, leading the newsletter in new directions. In 1994, during the Annual Gathering in Cambridge, Massachusetts, Bruce was appointed to the American Mensa Committee—the national board of directors—as Publications Officer, and Ed Pell succeeded him as the editor of Mphasis. But Bruce didn’t disappear from our local group; he remained part of the editorial triumvirate with Ed and Merrill Loechner.
About that time, Bruce met Amy, a Mensan friend of mine from the Boston area. It was only in retrospect that I realized Bruce wasn’t a very happy person. But from the time he met Amy, he was completely changed, much happier. So it wasn’t too much of a surprise when they announced their engagement, and then got married. Ed and I stood up with Bruce at their wedding.
Soon after the wedding, Bruce and Amy moved to Pittsburgh, and our relationship faded. Our contacts became infrequent, but later, thanks to Facebook, I was at least able to keep up with their lives. And though our contacts became more infrequent and tenuous, I was glad for him: every photo I saw, everything I read about him, showed that he was happy, very happy. So when I got Amy’s text Saturday morning that he was gone, my first thoughts were of great loss: the loss of Bruce, and the loss of the relationship we once had. But then I thought of how happy his life with Amy—and their daughter, Bridget—had made him, so I didn’t begrudge him one minute of our lost friendship. I was happy that he had been so happy.
But now he’s gone. Learning of his death turned the AG from a time of unrelenting excitement and exhaustion into a day of introspection and heavy thoughts. I spent that day thinking about Bruce, and soon those thoughts turned also to Ed (who died a year and a half ago). I remembered the photo of the three of us smiling in matching T-shirts, and the happiness that that photo shows me. And yet Bruce’s happiness (and Ed’s) both increased dramatically when they married (Amy and Diana) and moved out of New York City. So my thoughts turned to loss and gain: I’d lost the closeness I had with them both, but they each gained the happiness their lives deserved. So I’ll try to remember them as they were at the end: with the women they loved, and happy.