Pascal Kabemba ’85 & Teresa Delgado ’88
“Don’t get sentimental,” Pascal Kabemba ’85 uttered when he handed me a red rose on Valentine’s Day in 1985. I opened my dorm door and there he stood, eyes barely visible through fogged-up glasses, bundled from head to toe, having walked from downtown Hamilton in 5 inches of snow. He closed my door just as I was about to give him a hug, but not before those three words translated in my heart to, “I love you.”
Twenty-nine years and four children later, Pascal and I celebrated our silver anniversary on September 2, 2014. Some days, I can hardly believe such time has passed, like when I’m discussing post-graduation plans with my eldest daughter. Other days, the 25 years of marriage seem like the blink of an eye, like when Pascal and I are engrossed in deep conversations reminiscent of our college years.
Truth be told, I didn’t like him very much at first; I thought he was arrogant and unfriendly as he squinted when passing my room to get to his. I later learned he couldn’t see very well without his glasses and was trying to check if I was in my room!
Our time together at Colgate overlapped only one year, but Colgate was the foundation upon which our love and life together were built. Rev. Coleman Brown’s sermons inspired us to have faith: Pascal believed in me as I pursued a PhD, and I in him as he obtained his MBA. In the mid-’80s, we endured the challenges faced when people of different cultures — Pascal is Congolese, I’m Puerto Rican — love each other. Between 1985 and my 1988 graduation, we built on that foundation by the 35,000+ miles Pascal logged over a well-memorized route.
We take that route back to Colgate every chance we can, though not as often as we’d like. But every Valentine’s Day, we receive the Colgate couples greeting card and reflect upon how unlikely, maybe miraculously, two people from such different worlds met in rural New York and saw a future together.
I saved that rose from Pascal: it is pressed in a journal. I have the hat he wore that frigid day when he melted my heart. After catching the breath he took away, I ran to give him the hug he finally, and reluctantly, accepted with arms outstretched.
“Don’t get sentimental,” he said. I haven’t listened since.
— Teresa Delgado ’88