Tuesdays With Morrie opens with an account by Mitch of his graduation day on which his professor, Morrie Schwartz, hugs him warmly and asks him to stay in touch. Mitch answers without any hesitation, "Of course." However, he did not stay in touch. Instead, he became absorbed in his own life and his desires, such as that of wanting to be a musician. After his favorite uncle, the man he wanted to be like, dies of pancreatic cancer, Mitch feels "as if time were suddenly precious" and he becomes more serious:
I stopped renting. I stated buying. I bought a house on a hill....I invested in stock and built a portfolio.
Then, one evening on Ted Koppel's ABC's "Night-line," Mitch sees his former professor, now in a wheelchair, being interviewed. Realizing now that for Morrie time is also precious, Mitch decides to visit him. As soon as Morrie sees Mitch, he gives him a hug, then he rocks against him with affection. With this immediate show of affection, Mitch is ashamed of himself because he did not stay in touch and because he is not the person Morrie recalls:
...in the stone walls I had built between my present and my past, I had forgotten how close we once were. I remembered graduation day, the briefcase, his tears at my departure and I swallowed because I knew deep down that I was no long the good gift-bearing student he remembered.
Mitch struggles with this first encounter because he wishes he were a better man; he longs to be again the person that Morrie has loved.